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

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REP. TORKELSON: PRIVATE DITCHES WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO BUFFER LAW

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

ST. PAUL – Following a meeting with Governor Dayton on January 28 where he expressed his concerns regarding the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) misinterpretation of Minnesota's buffer law, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) reports that Governor Dayton has now ordered the DNR to stand down.

"Last fall it became clear the DNR was misinterpreting the new law and greatly expanding its scope to include private ditches, so House Republicans and Senate Democrats began working with the Dayton administration to ensure that legislative intent was followed," Torkelson said. "We are pleased the governor has agreed Thursday to uphold the legislative intent of the new buffer law, supported by House Republicans and Senate Democrats."

Under an agreement reached by the House, Senate, and Governor Dayton last year, by November of 2018 buffers of 16.5 feet must be installed on all public ditches. Following session, lawmakers learned that the DNR had begun mapping private ditches, which Torkelson and other House and Senate leaders said greatly exceeded the scope and intent of the compromise.

Torkelson said that farmers and rural landowners can now rest easier knowing the DNR will not be mapping their private ditches. "Our agricultural community understands and supports land management practices that will help improve water quality, and I am hopeful that the bipartisan buffer bill passed last session and signed into law by Governor Dayton will have that positive impact," Torkelson concluded.