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Posted: May 8 2015 9:32AM
Legislative Update - May 8, 2015
Ag buffers –strips of vegetation that serve as a barrier between farmland and water—have garnered a lot of attention in Minnesota lately. Governor Dayton has introduced what some are calling an aggressive ag buffer proposal
to improve water quality.
The reason for the ag buffers? Reports indicate that almost all streams and lakes in the Missouri River watershed in southwest Minnesota are too polluted to support aquatic life. And other reports show high nitrates in the groundwater of the sandy soils of north central Minnesota pose health threats.
Governor Dayton’s proposal would require a 50 foot natural vegetation buffer along Minnesota’s perennial waters has been one of the most controversial issues of this legislative session. Vegetative buffers are a good way to decrease agricultural runoff and improve water quality, but many are arguing that they are effective in some locations, but not all. Farmers are split on the issue, some understanding the significance of agriculture’s effect on our groundwater and others wanting reimbursement for the acreage they would lose under the proposal.
This is a complex issue with many viewpoints. One thing is clear, and that’s that we need to work better together to improve our water and leave a legacy for generations to come.
House Tax Bill
Last week, the House passed the tax bill, which funds the state’s priorities for the two year biennium. The majority’s tax bill includes permanent tax cuts for the owners of the largest corporations in Minnesota—many of whom don’t even live in the state. This is out of balance with the $50-70 most middle class Minnesotans will see in temporary tax reductions over the next two years in this bill.
The Majority budget invests just $1 in education for every $15 in these tax breaks—mostly for corporations. I have serious concerns about this imbalance. I am hopeful that in the conference committee process a bipartisan agreement can be achieved that adequately funds our priorities, invests in education, and does not favor large corporations over working Minnesotans.
Just this week, the Star Tribune posted an article
about the growing congestion in the metro area. Unfortunately, due to years of lackluster investments in roads, bridges and transit, Minnesota has a huge laundry list of overdue transportation improvement projects. Everyone agrees that there is a lot of work to do, but no one wants to come up with the billions of dollars needed to pay for it.
It’s time that we invest in our transportation infrastructure with a long-term solution. The Star Tribune’s Editorial Board recently came out with their support for a fully-funded fix to our state’s transportation woes. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read it here
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