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History Matters

Legislative Update


The Minnesota Historical Society was created by one of the first acts of the Territorial Legislature in 1849. Since then, the Minnesota Historical Society has partnered with the state in preserving history. The 2008 Legislative Session closed on May 18, having the primary task of passing a bill to invest in Minnesota’s public buildings and infrastructure.

The Minnesota Historical Society had requested funds for several important projects to be included in this capital investment bill. In addition, the Society supported several other proposals that impact the preservation of history in Minnesota.

Please contact Governor Pawlenty and your legislators. Tell them that history matters to you!

Session 2008


The Minnesota Historical Society had requested a total of $36.5 million from the State of Minnesota for the upkeep, maintenance and construction of facilities on the Society’s 26 historic sites and museums.

On April 7th, 2008 Governor Pawlenty approved the 2008 capital budget, which included $9.1 million for the Society’s capital budget request. Please contact the governor and your legislators to thank them for their support of history and ask them to continue to provide funding for all of the Society’s important projects.

The Society’s top request this session was a project to revitalize Historic Fort Snelling, Minnesota’s premier historic site. While only a portion of the funding was secured, a project is now underway to allow for the restoration and remodeling of historic buildings on the premises to preserve them for future use and to enhance the visitor experience.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s other appropriations in the bonding bill included funding for maintenance and upkeep of historic structures at historic sites throughout the state such as the James J. Hill House, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Jeffers Petroglyphs.  The Society also secured funding for a grant program that will assist local and county units of government and historical societies with the preservation of their historic sites and buildings.  Other budget provisions provided to the Society will allow for the design work on the revitalization of the Kelley Farm historic site, and the construction of interpretive trails at the Fort Ridgley historic site as part of the Heritage Trails system.

  • Take Action! Thank the governor and your legislators for their support of the Minnesota Historical Society’s requests!

2008 Capital Budget Request

Project Priority 2008 Request Governor's Recommendation (4/7)
Fort Snelling Revitalization 1 $24,800,000 $3,000,000
Historic Sites Asset Preservation 2 $7,349,000 $4,000,000
County and Local Historic Preservation Grants 3 $2,000,000 $1,600,000
Kelley Farm Revitalization 4 $1,500,000 $300,000
Heritage Trails 5 $894,000 $294,000
TOTAL $36,543,000 $9,194,000


Other Topics of Interest

Outdoor and Cultural Legacy Bill

During the 2008 legislative session, the Outdoor and Cultural Legacy Bill was approved and will appear on the ballot in November.

In recent years, state budgets have been significantly reduced for history programs, as well as environmental, arts and cultural programs, all of which contribute to Minnesota’s high quality of life. Ensuring a consistent funding stream for these programs will help maintain the features that make Minnesota such a great place to live.

Several bills over the years had been introduced, proposing a constitutional amendment to Minnesota voters to increase the state sales tax by 3/8ths of a percent and dedicate the additional revenue to the outdoors and cultural heritage.

In the final language of the bill, it was decided that 19.75% of the additional sales tax revenue would be dedicated to the arts and cultural heritage, which would include funding for Minnesota history. At current estimates, there could be close to $54 million of additional revenue available to be used for the preservation and enhancement of state history, culture, and arts.

With passage of the bill, the amendment will now appear on the November ballot.


Minnesota State Capitol Building Restoration

The Minnesota State Capitol, one of the premier architectural and historic sites in Minnesota, is badly in need of repair, restoration, and renovation.  This session the legislature agreed, and provided $13.4 million in funds to help mitigate current problems and plan for long-term solutions.  While this funding is a step in the right direction, it is short of the long-term estimated costs of fully renovating this Cass Gilbert designed historical building.


Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission

Celebrating 150 years of statehood, legislators allocated funding to support the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission’s activities.  With the Society serving as the pass-through entity, the Commission received $750,000 to carry out activities relating to the celebration of Minnesota’s people, places, and culture. Also, legislators authorized the creation of commemorative license plates for the purpose of providing funding and publicity for the Sesquicentennial Commission.


Legislation that did not pass

Historic Preservation Tax Credit

A coalition of cities, historical groups, and property developers have been actively promoting proposed legislation that would allow a credit on state income taxes equal to 25 percent of the qualified cost of a historic rehabilitation of residential or income- producing properties. The proposed legislation, similar to provisions in over 29 other states, would encourage private investment in historic properties in both urban and rural Minnesota, generating jobs and stimulating economic development.

A provision similar to the Historic Preservation Tax Credit was included in the Omnibus Tax Bill at the end of the 2007 session as a $3 million grant program. However, the Omnibus Tax Bill was vetoed, meaning that the Historic Preservation grant program did not pass into law.

During the 2008 session, the coalition of HPTC supporters once again asked the Legislature to pass this important economic development initiative but it failed to pass.

Please contact the governor and your legislators to ask them to pass the Historic Preservation Tax Credit this upcoming session.