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84.027 POWERS AND DUTIES.

Subdivision 1.Powers and duties.

The commissioner of natural resources shall be the administrative and executive head of the department. Subject to the provisions hereof and other applicable laws, the commissioner shall have the powers and duties herein prescribed. The enumeration of specific powers and duties herein shall not limit or exclude other powers or duties.

Subd. 2.General.

The commissioner shall have charge and control of all the public lands, parks, timber, waters, minerals, and wild animals of the state and of the use, sale, leasing, or other disposition thereof, and of all records pertaining to the performance of the commissioner's functions relating thereto.

Subd. 3.Former powers and duties of commissioner of conservation.

The commissioner shall have all the powers and duties prescribed for the commissioner of conservation by Laws 1931, chapter 186, all the powers and duties therein prescribed for the Conservation Commission except the power to appoint a commissioner, and all other powers and duties now prescribed by law for the commissioner of conservation, the Conservation Commission, the Department of Conservation, its divisions, or the director of any division.

Subd. 4.Certain powers and duties of state auditor.

The commissioner shall have all existing powers and duties now or heretofore vested in or imposed upon the state auditor in any capacity and not heretofore transferred to any other officer or agency with respect to the public lands, parks, timber, waters, and minerals of the state, and the records thereof; provided, that nothing herein shall divest the state auditor of any power or duty otherwise prescribed by law with respect to auditing, accounting, disbursement, or other disposition of funds pertaining to the matters herein specified, nor of any power or duty expressly vested in or imposed upon the state auditor by the following provisions of law:

(1) The provisions of Mason's Minnesota Statutes 1927, section 76, so far as the same pertain to the crediting of payments on account of state lands, timber, or other products to the proper funds, or to the depositing and keeping of conveyances and abstracts of title; also all other provisions pertaining to the filing or keeping of deeds, grants, or conveyances to the state or abstracts or other evidence of title to state property;

(2) All provisions pertaining to escheated property;

(3) Mason's Minnesota Statutes 1927, sections 2220, 6442 to 6449, 6646, 6660, and 8223.

Subd. 5.Descriptions of lands.

The commissioner shall have all the powers and duties prescribed for the state auditor by Mason's Supplement 1940, sections 5620-1 to 5620-13, 6452-1 to 6452-13, and 4031-75 to 4031-88, with respect to the receipt, filing, keeping, and certification of reports, lists, and records of descriptions of lands, reserving to the state auditor all other powers and duties therein prescribed for the state auditor. The county auditor shall make and transmit to the state auditor all the certificates and reports therein required except certificates and reports of land descriptions, which shall be made and transmitted to the commissioner.

Subd. 6.Land sales and conveyances.

The commissioner shall have all the powers and duties prescribed for the state auditor by Mason's Supplement 1940, sections 5620-13 1/2 to 5620-13 1/2j, as amended, and 2139-27b to 2139-27k, as amended, with respect to the receipt, filing, and keeping of reports of sales of land and the execution of conveyances, reserving to the state auditor all other powers and duties therein prescribed for the state auditor. The county auditors shall make and transmit to the commissioner all the certificates and reports therein required to be made to the state auditor with respect to such sales and conveyances. The county treasurers shall make all reports of collections thereunder in duplicate and shall transmit a copy of each report to the commissioner of finance and the commissioner.

Subd. 7.Limitation of powers.

Except as otherwise expressly provided, nothing herein shall confer on the commissioner any authority over any property of the state devoted pursuant to law to any specific purpose under any officer or agency of the state other than the commissioner or the Department of Natural Resources or its divisions.

Subd. 8.Selection of lands for certain purposes.

The commissioner of natural resources may select from any available lands owned by the United States in this state such lands as the commissioner deems suitable in lieu of any deficiencies which may have occurred in grants of school lands or other lands heretofore made to the state under any act of Congress, and may, with the approval of the Executive Council, accept on behalf of the state any grants or patents of lands so selected issued by the United States to the state.

This subdivision shall not be deemed to amend, supersede, or repeal any existing law, but shall be supplementary thereto.

Subd. 9.Condemnation with landowner's consent.

If authorized by law to acquire any interest in real estate, the commissioner of natural resources may acquire by condemnation with the written consent of the landowner, that real estate which the commissioner deems to be in the best interests of the state. This subdivision shall apply only in those situations where condemnation is not otherwise authorized for the acquisition.

Subd. 10.Sale of surplus lands to local governments for recreational or natural resources purposes.

(a) The commissioner, with the approval of the state Executive Council, may sell the class of land or interest in land under paragraph (b) to a county, home rule charter or statutory city, town, or other governmental subdivision of the state for public use, including recreational or natural resource purposes.

(b) The commissioner may sell the class of land or interest in land that has been acquired by gift, purchase, or eminent domain and the commissioner has declared surplus. The commissioner shall declare land surplus in writing and state the reasons why the land or interest in land is no longer needed.

(c) The commissioner shall appraise the land or interest in land before the land or interest in land is sold, and may sell the land or interest in land for less than the appraised value if the commissioner determines, in writing, that it is in the public interest.

(d) The commissioner shall convey the state's interest in the name of the state by quitclaim deed in a form approved by the attorney general. The deed must reserve to the state minerals and mineral rights in the manner provided in sections 93.01 and 93.02, and provide that the land or interest in land reverts to the state if the governmental subdivision acquiring the land or interest in land:

(1) fails to provide the public use intended on the property;

(2) allows a public use other than the public use agreed to by the commissioner at the time of conveyance without the written approval of the commissioner; or

(3) abandons the public use of the property.

Subd. 11.Federal conservation grants.

The commissioner of natural resources shall receive and administer grants under the land and water conservation grant program authorized by Congress in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, as amended.

Subd. 12.Property disposal; gift acknowledgment; advertising sales.

(a) The commissioner may give away to members of the public items with a value of less than $50 that are intended to promote conservation of natural resources or create awareness of the state and its resources or natural resource management programs. The total value of items given to the public under this paragraph may not exceed $25,000 per year.

(b) The commissioner may recognize the contribution of money or in-kind services on plaques, signs, publications, audio-visual materials, and media advertisements by allowing the organization's contribution to be acknowledged in print of readable size.

(c) The commissioner may accept paid advertising for departmental publications. Advertising revenues received are appropriated to the commissioner to be used to defray costs of publications, media productions, or other informational materials. The commissioner may not accept paid advertising from any elected official or candidate for elective office.

Subd. 13.Game and fish rules.

(a) The commissioner of natural resources may adopt rules under sections 97A.0451 to 97A.0459 and this subdivision that are authorized under:

(1) chapters 97A, 97B, and 97C to set open seasons and areas, to close seasons and areas, to select hunters for areas, to provide for tagging and registration of game and fish, to prohibit or allow taking of wild animals to protect a species, to prevent or control wildlife disease, and to prohibit or allow importation, transportation, or possession of a wild animal;

(2) sections 84.093, 84.15, and 84.152 to set seasons for harvesting wild ginseng roots and wild rice and to restrict or prohibit harvesting in designated areas; and

(3) section 84D.12 to designate prohibited invasive species, regulated invasive species, unregulated nonnative species, and infested waters.

(b) If conditions exist that do not allow the commissioner to comply with sections 97A.0451 to 97A.0459, the commissioner may adopt a rule under this subdivision by submitting the rule to the attorney general for review under section 97A.0455, publishing a notice in the State Register and filing the rule with the secretary of state and the Legislative Coordinating Commission, and complying with section 97A.0459, and including a statement of the emergency conditions and a copy of the rule in the notice. The notice may be published after it is received from the attorney general or five business days after it is submitted to the attorney general, whichever is earlier.

(c) Rules adopted under paragraph (b) are effective upon publishing in the State Register and may be effective up to seven days before publishing and filing under paragraph (b), if:

(1) the commissioner of natural resources determines that an emergency exists;

(2) the attorney general approves the rule; and

(3) for a rule that affects more than three counties the commissioner publishes the rule once in a legal newspaper published in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, or for a rule that affects three or fewer counties the commissioner publishes the rule once in a legal newspaper in each of the affected counties.

(d) Except as provided in paragraph (e), a rule published under paragraph (c), clause (3), may not be effective earlier than seven days after publication.

(e) A rule published under paragraph (c), clause (3), may be effective the day the rule is published if the commissioner gives notice and holds a public hearing on the rule within 15 days before publication.

(f) The commissioner shall attempt to notify persons or groups of persons affected by rules adopted under paragraphs (b) and (c) by public announcements, posting, and other appropriate means as determined by the commissioner.

(g) Notwithstanding section 97A.0458, a rule adopted under this subdivision is effective for the period stated in the notice but not longer than 18 months after the rule is adopted.

Subd. 13a.Game and fish expedited permanent rules.

In addition to the authority granted in subdivision 13, the commissioner of natural resources may adopt rules under section 14.389 that are authorized under:

(1) chapters 97A, 97B, and 97C to describe zone or permit area boundaries, to designate fish spawning beds or fish preserves, to select hunters or anglers for areas, to provide for registration of game or fish, to prevent or control wildlife disease, or to correct errors or omissions in rules that do not have a substantive effect on the intent or application of the original rule; or

(2) section 84D.12 to designate prohibited invasive species, regulated invasive species, and unregulated nonnative species.

Subd. 14.Mission; efficiency.

It is part of the department's mission that within the department's resources the commissioner shall endeavor to:

(1) prevent the waste or unnecessary spending of public money;

(2) use innovative fiscal and human resource practices to manage the state's resources and operate the department as efficiently as possible;

(3) coordinate the department's activities wherever appropriate with the activities of other governmental agencies;

(4) use technology where appropriate to increase agency productivity, improve customer service, increase public access to information about government, and increase public participation in the business of government;

(5) utilize constructive and cooperative labor-management practices to the extent otherwise required by chapters 43A and 179A;

(6) report to the legislature on the performance of agency operations and the accomplishment of agency goals in the agency's biennial budget according to section 16A.10, subdivision 1; and

(7) recommend to the legislature appropriate changes in law necessary to carry out the mission and improve the performance of the department.

Subd. 15.Electronic transactions.

(a) The commissioner may receive an application for, sell, and issue any license, stamp, permit, pass, sticker, duplicate safety training certification, registration, or transfer under the jurisdiction of the commissioner by electronic means, including by telephone. Notwithstanding section 97A.472, electronic and telephone transactions may be made outside of the state. The commissioner may:

(1) provide for the electronic transfer of funds generated by electronic transactions, including by telephone;

(2) assign an identification number to an applicant who purchases a hunting or fishing license or recreational vehicle registration by electronic means, to serve as temporary authorization to engage in the activity requiring a license or registration until the license or registration is received or expires;

(3) charge and permit agents to charge a fee of individuals who make electronic transactions and transactions by telephone or Internet, including issuing fees and an additional transaction fee not to exceed $3.50;

(4) charge and permit agents to charge a convenience fee not to exceed three percent of the cost of the license to individuals who use electronic bank cards for payment. An electronic licensing system agent charging a fee of individuals making an electronic bank card transaction in person must post a sign informing individuals of the fee. The sign must be near the point of payment, clearly visible, include the amount of the fee, and state: "License agents are allowed by state law to charge a fee not to exceed three percent of the cost of state licenses to persons who use electronic bank cards for payment. The fee is not required by state law.";

(5) establish, by written order, an electronic licensing system commission to be paid by revenues generated from all sales made through the electronic licensing system. The commissioner shall establish the commission in a manner that neither significantly overrecovers nor underrecovers costs involved in providing the electronic licensing system; and

(6) adopt rules to administer the provisions of this subdivision.

(b) The fees established under paragraph (a), clauses (3) and (4), and the commission established under paragraph (a), clause (5), are not subject to the rulemaking procedures of chapter 14 and section 14.386 does not apply.

(c) Money received from fees and commissions collected under this subdivision, including interest earned, is annually appropriated from the game and fish fund and the natural resources fund to the commissioner for the cost of electronic licensing.

Subd. 16.Commissioner to administer grants programs.

Unless otherwise specified by law, the commissioner may establish the procedures and criteria for selection of projects funded through authorized grants and research programs. Procedures and criteria for selection are not subject to the rulemaking provisions of chapter 14 and section 14.386 does not apply.

Subd. 17.Background checks for volunteer instructors.

(a) The commissioner may conduct background checks for volunteer instructor applicants for department safety training and education programs, including the programs established under sections 84.791 (youth off-highway motorcycle safety education and training), 84.86 and 84.862 (youth and adult snowmobile safety training), 84.925 (youth all-terrain vehicle safety education and training), 97B.015 (youth firearms safety training), and 97B.025 (hunter and trapper education and training).

(b) The commissioner shall perform the background check by retrieving criminal history data maintained in the criminal justice information system (CJIS) and other data sources.

(c) The commissioner shall develop a standardized form to be used for requesting a background check, which must include:

(1) a notification to the applicant that the commissioner will conduct a background check under this section;

(2) a notification to the applicant of the applicant's rights under paragraph (d); and

(3) a signed consent by the applicant to conduct the background check expiring one year from the date of signature.

(d) The volunteer instructor applicant who is the subject of a background check has the right to:

(1) be informed that the commissioner will request a background check on the applicant;

(2) be informed by the commissioner of the results of the background check and obtain a copy of the background check;

(3) obtain any record that forms the basis for the background check and report;

(4) challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in the report or a record; and

(5) be informed by the commissioner if the applicant is rejected because of the result of the background check.

Subd. 18.Permanent school fund authority; reporting.

The commissioner of natural resources has the authority and responsibility for the administration of school trust lands under sections 92.121 and 127A.31. The commissioner shall biannually report to the Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee and the legislature on the management of the school trust lands that shows how the commissioner has and will continue to achieve the following goals:

(1) manage the school trust lands efficiently;

(2) reduce the management expenditures of school trust lands and maximize the revenues deposited in the permanent school trust fund;

(3) manage the sale, exchange, and commercial leasing of school trust lands to maximize the revenues deposited in the permanent school trust fund and retain the value from the long-term appreciation of the school trust lands; and

(4) manage the school trust lands to maximize the long-term economic return for the permanent school trust fund while maintaining sound natural resource conservation and management principles.

700 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 ♦ Phone: (651) 296-2868 ♦ TTY: 1-800-627-3529 ♦ Fax: (651) 296-0569