In November of 2010, Iowa voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to set aside money for various natural resources projects. The measure gained final legislative approval Wednesday. Senator Dick Dearden, a Des Moines Democrat and hunting enthusiast, is a leading advocate for the amendment.

He says, under the proposal, 3/8 of the money raised by any future state sales tax increase would be dedicated to natural resources. If voters approve and a one-cent sales-tax hike was passed, an estimated 150-million dollars a year would be dedicated to the account.

Dearden says around $20-million would be directed toward watershed protection, 10-million for lake restoration, 15-million to trails and 35-million to parks and outdoor recreation projects. The senate sealed the final legislative approval on a vote of 49 to 1 with very little debate.

Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, cast the lone "no" vote. She and other critics argue environmental protection should be balanced against other needs, including education, instead of protected in the constitution. The Iowa House passed the measure earlier this week. The governor’s signature is not required, so it now goes before voters.