Sen. Steve Faris asked for an attorney general's opinion on whether proceeds of mineral exploration on Game and Fish Commission land belongs exclusively to the constitutional agency or if the state may benefit generally. Short answer: the money belongs to Game and Fish, period, though it must be appropriated by the legislature. This is an issue as the Fayetteville shale gas play gets cranking. Summary of the a.g. opinion on the jump.
A reader asks for the text of Amendment 35 setting up the commission. Here's a link to full Constitution, scroll down to Amendment 35.
FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE:
QUESTION: Who has access to the funds the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission ("Commission") would derive from mineral exploration and production on Commission-owned lands? Q2) Are the funds solely the property of the Commission or may the State of Arkansas access the funds to redirect them towards needed areas such as health care or public education? Q3) Would the Commission have exclusive use of the funds regardless of any determination by the Arkansas General Assembly that the newfound financial resources resulted in funding far in excess of the Commission's operational needs?
RESPONSE: 1) The Game and Fish Commission has access, after appropriation by the General Assembly to the Game Protection Fund; 2) The funds may not be re-directed to purposes other than those set out in Amendment 35; and 3) The moneys arising from the sources mentioned may only be Appropriated to the purposes listed in Amendment 35.