Finding some positives from 2017 Legislature

There were winners and losers in the 2017 Minnesota Legislature session. However, southwest Minnesota can find some positives.

For instance, the education budget includes $50 million to further expand prekindergarten classes in public schools. Hopefully, Marshall Public Schools and other districts in the region will get some of that funding. The Marshall district is in the process of expanding its prekindergarten program, but needs some funding help.

Outdoor enthusiasts are also winners. Fishing and hunting license fees, and state park, snowmobile and ATV fees will go up. The Department of Natural Resources needs the fee increases to shore up its Game and Fish Fund. That finances outdoor programs that hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans enjoy.

Legislators also approved spending nearly $530 million in Legacy Amendment sales tax proceeds, including $212 million on clean water programs, nearly $105 million on outdoor programs and nearly $90 million on parks and trails.

Also, farmers and landowners get a eight-month reprieve on meeting new regulations to install buffers on lands along public waters and lands adjacent to public ditches. Farmers felt those regulations were too burdensome, but the extra time is a compromise.