MNDOT has announced several projects that are important to our area:
One project will be on Hwy. 108 (east of Pelican Rapids) to Hwy. 78. It includes bituminous milling and overlay for a total of $7,088,700. Construction will be done this summer.
MNDOT has also announced a stop light will be installed by September at the Wal-Mart intersection in Fergus Falls.
In other news, I am working on a resolution to recognize the Pelican Rapids boys basketball team for its outstanding achievements culminating in an undefeated season and a state championship. We’ll have more on that later.
I also want to pass along a Green Acres update because some progress was made this week. The Legislature did not repeal all the changes it made to Green Acres last year, but it restored enough of the agricultural land program’s effectiveness to gain bipartisan support in the House.
Green Acres fixes were included in a tax conformity bill (HF392) which recently passed the House 130-3. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to approve the bill in the days to come.
This bill restored some key elements of Green Acres: the seven-year payback period was changed back to three years; in most cases RIM and CREP land is allowed to remain in Green Acres; land may be sold or transferred to a landowner’s child without penalty; and the deadline for full compliance was pushed back to 2013.
Green Acres has been a contentious issue in much of rural Minnesota ever since the Legislature altered the program in the waning hours of the 2008 session. A lot of people felt like the changes to Green Acres did not receive their due consideration on the House floor. Bad things tend to happen when people ram heaps of bills through the Legislature in the final hours of the session and this is proof.
Green Acres has been in place for more than 40 years, allowing farmers and landowners to keep their family farms in a tax classification where farms could be valued at their agricultural value. This protected them from rising valuations due to developmental pressures. Then, last year’s alterations left many farmers facing huge tax liabilities.
Work to correct the problems began on Day 1 of the current legislative session. More than 20 different Green Acres bills were drafted in the Legislature, some pushing to fix specific components and others geared to fully repeal the 2008 changes.
The legislation we passed might not be a full repeal, but I’m sure more proposals will be offered to make additional improvements. The good thing is we’ve restored the most important components and provided Green Acres enrollees with more time to plan for the future.
You can log on to www.house.mn and enter HF392 into the “Get Bill” box for details of the bill.
Until next time,