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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Brief special session expected and more legislative notes

Monday, June 08, 2020

By Rep. Paul Anderson

The Legislature is expected start a brief special session this Friday, June 12. Only the governor can call us back, and he needs to do so if he is going to extend his peacetime emergency related to the Covid-19 situation. Even if the Republican-controlled Senate votes to end the emergency, the DFL-controlled House would also need to do the same. Resolutions to that effect were brought up three times during the regular session, and each was voted down in the House.

It's also expected a bonding bill will be taken up during the special session, in addition to legislation pertaining to taxes.

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The announcement over the weekend that a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council is in favor of abolishing their police department was surprising. As the city rebuilds and businesses emerge from the ashes of recent fires, there will still be the need for some kind of law enforcement. We shouldn't let the actions of a few deter from the good work done by others in the department.

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The timing couldn't be worse. Late last week, the ninth circuit court in California removed the registration on three brand names of the agricultural chemical known as dicamba. This chemical is one of the more widely used for weed control in soybeans and cotton, and the label removal comes just as farmers nationwide are beginning to spray their crops. They are left wondering if they can continue to spray, what they can spray, and if sufficient supplies of other chemicals are available.

The ruling caught nearly everyone off guard. The Environmental Protection Agency is the federal arm that registers farm chemicals, and they gave their most recent approval to dicamba in 2018. There have been issues with spray drift that allegedly has caused damage to other crops, and the original lawsuit against dicamba was filed in 2017. At this time, it's not known if the EPA will appeal the court ruling and request a stay while the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's interesting to note the different reactions from state departments of agriculture. In research I've done, it appears that at least nine states will continue allowing the use of dicamba, while three others have stopped the sale and use of the product. Yes, Minnesota is one of the three that has disallowed the use of dicamba, along with Nebraska and Illinois.

The agriculture commissioner in North Dakota says that his state's label has not been affected, and the use of dicamba will remain legal. Eight other states have said it will be okay to use the chemical until the EPA issues further instructions. Those state include Iowa, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Kansas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

It puts farmers in a very difficult spot, needing to spray their soybean fields and not being able to use their chemical of choice. Timing in the control of weeks is critical, and now is the time to be spraying. They can't wait for days or weeks to find out what the legal system will do. Here in Minnesota, where dicamba cannot be used because of the court ruling in California, farmers will be forced to look for alternative chemicals that will be effective in their fields.

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