Dayton: Emmer Has “Deathbed Conversion” On Legacy Amendment

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As recently as a few months ago Republican candidate for Minnesota Governor Tom Emmer was on the record as trying to repeal the constitutional amendment that guarantees funding for parks, the outdoors and the arts. That’s a position that doesn’t sit well with outdoors enthusiasts.

On Saturday while debating before outdoor enthusiasts at Game Fair, Emmer said he was no longer in favor of repealing the legacy amendment.

DFL candidate for Governor Mark Dayton welcomed Emmer’s change, but called it a “deathbed conversion” and remarked that deathbed conversions seldom last if the patient recovers.

Emmer said he was against the legacy amendment because “I didn’t agree on putting the tax in…into our constitution.” However, in 2008 Emmer sponsored a bill that did put a sales tax into the Minnesota constitution. HF3035 was never passed, but it called for a constitutional amendment that would require the sales tax on items used for fishing to be dedicated to game and fish programs.

Transcript of the video when you continue reading.
Ron Schara: Representative Emmer, why didn’t you support the legacy amendment, and your name is also on a bill  (HF1762) to repeal the amendment. You want to state your case?

Tom Emmer: Absolutely and I talked about it last year when we were here and I’ll talk about it in the future.

We don’t agree on everything and I didn’t agree on putting the tax in..into our constitution.  That discussion is over.  The one assurance I would make everybody in this room is that if I’m Governor of this state, we’re not going backwards we’re going forwards.

And you know what?  You got to make sure that these funds Senator are being used for the original intent.  We got to make sure that those funds are going to wildlife, fish and hunting habitat.  Not to dog parks in Minneapolis and we got to make sure we stand up to the animal rights extremists that are trying to put puppy m…  our our great kennels out of business, our dog breeders. That’s what the sportsmen need. That’s what all of us need. Not looking backwards, looking forwards and folks that discussion is over.  That fight is over.

We are not going to repeal the legacy amendment. We didn’t have to agree with it. By the way Senator Dayton since you brought it up you weren’t there. One of the things that was missing Ron and you guys will remember when the legislation was first pushed through the legislature, we didn’t have the mechanics for the Lessard council.  The Lessard-Sams council.  So as a responsible policy maker, not only do you have problems with the constitutional issue, but that’s gone now.  The other issue is how’s the Lessard-Sams council going to work. And I’ll tell you what. So far I’ve been impressed with how it’s working but I think we need to do a lot more to impress people that are on that to work with hunting and fishing groups to advance more productive hunting and fishing habitat, not dog parks in Minneapolis.

Schara: I have one little follow-up, Mr. Emmer, just because in my hand here there’s a bill here to eliminate the constitutional amendment and it has your name on it.  Does that mean you’re taking your name off of it?

Emmer: That’s right.  That’s … part of that was because we’re just seeing how the Lessard-Sams council is  working. And I got to tell everybody in the room.  I’m scared to death of people like Jean Wagenius in Minneapolis taking away my kids right to hunt and fish in the future and I was worried about the mechanics of the Lessard-Sams council not working the way it was intended. You know what?  We’ve seen it so far, we just need to have a Governor that will put people on that council that will honor the original intent and yes my name will be off.

Schara: You want to tear it up?

Emmer: Sure

Schara: So that’s why you tried to repeal it in 2009 was because of your concerns about the Lessard council?

Emmer: Yeah that’s part of it. I mean we have to see how this is working and now you don’t go backward. We’re going to leave it and we’re going to make sure that we appoint people to the council that will honor the original intent and make sure that the money goes where it’s intended. To produce productive hunting and wildlife and fishing habitat. (rips paper)

Schara: Senator Dayton, quick retort?

Mark Dayton: Well I worked for Senator Mondale back when he was a Senator. His father was a minister. And Fritz said his father used to tell him the only with deathbed conversions is they seldom last if the patient recovers.

So I’m glad that representative Emmer has had a conversion on this.  Because we do need this amendment and and it should be hands off the legislature.

I will support members of the Lessard-Sams council who will make decisions that will represent the will of the people, that represent the language of that amendment as the people of Minnesota voted on it.  And I will veto any attempt by the legislature to interfere with that, to usurp the authority of the Lessard council.

That’s been my consistent position.  I supported that amendment as a private citizen.  I contributed to the “vote yes”, in contrast to Representative Emmer.  It’s a fundamental difference between us. I supported that amendment. I’ve always supported that amendment. I will always support that amendment.  And I’ll say it’s the rule of the people and the Lessard-Sams council word ought to be the authority on where that money is spent.

Emmer: But you know what Senator, it won’t protect the…

Schara: We gotta move on to another topic.  I guarantee you we’re going to get the opportunity to talk about more fun topics like this.

Emmer:…if it won’t protect the right to guns, it’s not going to matter.  We got to let them hunt too.

Schara: Shoreline development has been in the news.

Tom Horner: Can I just take one quick response?  And I don’t want to keep doing the back and forth.  But look, the issue is we do have to go forward and part of that legacy amendment is that is new money.  It’s not money intended to replace the funds that we’re already putting into the environment, into land management, into habitat protection. And that’s the issue.     And we’re not going to do that if we keep cutting, if we have simplistic solutions, if we don’t have a commitment going forward to make sure that we are funding the water quality, the land management, conservation officers, habitat protection and development. It is also the money going forward.  It is the commitment to the full text of the amendment.  Not just to one narrow slice of it and that’s going to take leadership.  That’s going to take foresight. That’s going to take a commitment to outdoors.

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