The state Senate has turned down one of two measures that would create an “outdoor heritage fund” – to help with access and habitat.
This measure would have been put to a vote in 2014, as a Constitutional amendment. It would have set aside $100 million a year – and unlike a statutory measure still pending, would have allowed the purchase of land.
Sen. Tyler Axness (D-Fargo) sponsored the measure. He says people did not get a chance to vote on an initiated Constitutional measure last year because of ballot fraud – and he says a number of people approached him to get this on the ballot through legislative action.
"What are we concerned about, when it comes to allowing the people of our state to vote on things?" said Axness. "These are the same people that elected each and every one of us in this chamber. We entrust them to do that. Why don't we entrust them to steer our landscape in the direction that they see fit for our grandchildren?"
Senators representing agricultural areas objected to the measure allowing land purchases.
"A hundred million dollars a year that could potentially - at $2000 an acre -- allow an unelected group to compete with our framers and ranchers and potentially purchase 50,000 acres per year," said Sen. Terry Wanzek (R-Jamestown).
The measure failed 36-10. A measure that would set aside $30 million a biennium – but not allow land purchases – is still pending in the Senate. It has already passed the House.