ST. PAUL – By a vote of 130-3, the Minnesota House of Representatives has approved legislation that makes changes to the state’s “Green Acres” property tax program. State Representative Greg Davids (R-Preston) helped approve the measure.
“This bill is the result of a compromise between the House and Senate,” Davids said. “In my opinion, it doesn’t do enough to completely ease the worries of property owners who have land in the program, but it will give them some breathing room. In this case, something is better than nothing.”
The Green Acres program was originally developed to help farmers resist selling their productive land to developers, and in more recent years, to investors who want to idle the land for deer hunting or other recreational activities.
Last year, lawmakers made changes to the program, including provisions that reduced program eligibility, and halted the enrollment of non-productive land.
According to the compromise proposal, current enrollees can now withdraw unproductive land this year without penalty. They would then have up to three years to decide which portions of their property to enroll in the program. Once that decision was made, the land would need to stay in the program for ten years, but the penalties for withdrawing their land wouldn’t be as severe.
“I would have preferred the Legislature acted on my bill, which would have repealed the changes made to Green Acres and reestablished the guidelines that were in place prior to 2008,” Davids said. “But this proposal is a good start.”
The Minnesota Senate is expected to approve the measure in the coming days, and Governor Pawlenty is expected to sign the proposal into law once it reaches his desk.