A School Trust Lands bill is traveling through the Senate. Sen. Tom Saxhaug has authored a package of three School Trust Lands bills that have been combined into one bill — SF 2638. The bill, endorsed by MSBA and the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission, was heard Thursday in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
School Trust Lands Administrator Aaron Vande Linde began his testimony reminding committee members that part of his statutory job description is to propose legislative priorities to the School Fund Commission.
Provision No. 1 from the bill would provide quarterly sweeps and deposits from Minerals Management Account into the Permanent School Fund — as opposed to the yearly sweep, which is current practice. More frequent sweeps and deposits will provide more revenue to the fund, and will increase interest and dividends distributed to the schools.
Provision No. 2 would allow for more flexibility through the existing expedited land exchange on School Trust Lands. Currently, School Trust Lands are exempt from this process.
Provision No. 3 is a state appropriation of $500,000 to start the process of selling the School Trust Lands locked in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the federal government. This appropriation would provide the revenue needed for legal, appraisal and title work on these lands.
The committee advanced the bill to the Senate Finance Committee.
- First, we strongly support Vande Linde’s effort to provide the maximum return on the investment. This is an accounting process that should have never been allowed to begin with.
- Second, the School Trust Lands should be included in the the expedited land exchange process.
- Third, we are in agreement with officials from the Friends of Boundary Waters Wilderness as they testified, “We are supportive of a two-thirds land sale and a one-third land swap, and we are supportive of the appropriation to pursue the sale portion.”