For more information contact: Chad Urdahl 651-296-5520
Before we get to legislative news, Faith and I wish you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I hope you are able to enjoy some extra time in the company of friends and loved ones this week.
As for official business, some interesting meetings recently have taken place in our area. The meeting MnDOT hosted in Morris to discuss state ditch-mowing regulations was well-attended and it ended up being a productive discussion.
As one would expect, many people in Greater Minnesota object to MnDOT planning to change its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. On the other hand, proponents of changes say ditches provide wildlife habitat and should be protected.
The biggest obstacle to reaching an agreement appears to be the Aug. 1 date MnDOT proposes as the earliest ditches could be mowed. Property owners point out much of the feed value is lost by that time of the season and also raise safety concerns for motor vehicles if vegetation in ditches is allowed to grow that long. From that standpoint, I would like to see ditches neatly trimmed all the time.
Regardless of how things shake out, MnDOT does need to do a better job of controlling invasive weeds that are growing on state lands and spreading to private property – especially Canada thistle, which is infesting fields and competing with crops.
MnDOT officials were busy taking notes as meeting attendees spoke at the Morris event and the input they received should be given due consideration as we continue working through this issue. The moratorium the Legislature placed on altering ditch-mowing policies expires in May, so you can expect this subject to be up for debate the Capitol during the upcoming session.
I also attended a meeting in Alexandria where the conversation focused on the new 40 Square health insurance co-op for people who work in the ag industry. The folks with 40 Square are working hard to get the requisite number of enrollees necessary to get this project off the ground and I hope they are successful. There are some unique features that would be beneficial to people, such as being able to shop for quality and price, and also having 24-hour telephone access to medical staff.
Here is a link to the 40 Square website if you want to investigate.
Good luck, I will be back with more news soon and, until next time, enjoy Thanksgiving.
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