Voters approve constitutional amendments

by Nichol Nelson

All three state constitutional amendments on the ballot passed Tuesday.
Focusing on lottery funding, hunting and fishing rights, and the abolition of the state treasurer’s office, the amendments all received more than the 50 percent of votes needed to pass. The amendments had already passed the state House of Repre-sentatives and the Senate.
Amendment one, which at press time garnered 77 percent of the necessary votes, will continue to funnel Minnesota State Lottery proceeds into the Environmental Trust Fund until the year 2025.
Currently, 40 percent of net lottery proceeds go to the fund. The interest from the fund supports state projects like park improvements, water resource management and trail building, said Don Feeney, spokesman for Minnesota State Lottery.
Lea Schuster, a representative from the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, said the organization supported the amendment.
“One of the things students really want to see is our state park system growing,” Schuster said. She added the fund has already spent $34.6 million on state parks and trails.
Amendment two, which forever preserves hunting, fishing and the taking of game in Minnesota, also passed Tuesday. At press time, the amendment had received 77 percent of the ‘yes’ votes.
University senior Will Oberton was happy to see amendment two pass. Oberton is a hunter and licensed falconer who said he voted ‘yes’ because he feared future legislation might wipe out environmental privileges for Minnesotans.
Durk Gescheidle, a member of the Animal Rights Coalition, believes the amendment is a “blatant misuse of the Constitution.” Gescheidle said proponents of the amendment used unfair tactics to scare voters into thinking that hunting and fishing was threatened in the state.
The third amendment abolished the state treasurer’s office at press time by gaining 56 percent of the necessary votes.
Effective January 2003, the duties of the state treasurer will most likely be transferred to the commissioner of finance, a position that is appointed by the governor.
Michael McGrath, state treasurer for 12 years, said the amendment takes power out of the hands of voters.