Legislation to change natural resources fund sparks outcry

Lawmakers’ bid to exert control over how the state buys and improves land for public recreation is hitting stiff resistance from Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and sparking a constitutional conflict.

The Senate this past week voted to issue more grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund than recommended, a break from a rubber-stamp process. The Republican-controlled chamber also approved new spending rules.

The popular fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas development companies that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.

Legislators are frustrated that the Natural Resources Trust Fund board is not spending more of the fund’s interest and earnings.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the bills sent to the House are unconstitutional. The agency has asked Attorney General Bill Schuette for a legal opinion.

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