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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Update re: propane, ag. health insurance and ditch mowing meeting

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

I am among members of the GOP Rural Caucus who, on Wednesday, co-signed a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton, requesting that he issue an executive order temporarily waiving hours of service regulations for transporters of propane and anhydrous ammonia.

The governor followed by issuing the executive order we requested to keep propane supplies moving to the point of demand for home heating and grain drying this harvest season. The governor issued a similar order in 2013, when late-maturing crops and other factors teamed to choke the propane supply chain that fall.

The Emergency Executive Order 17-11 issued late Wednesday evening eases regulations on hours of service “for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in emergency relief efforts.” According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Executive Order “will help ensure farmers have access to the diesel fuel and propane they need to dry late-harvested crops.”

This year’s situation does not appear as dire as back in 2013, but a number of people have reported that shortages in surrounding states are causing dealers to turn to Minnesota for supplies, straining our state’s resources. Haulers have had to wait in line for up to six hours to load their trucks, time which cuts into their allotted hours of service behind the wheel.

The Executive Order remains in effect for 30 days, or “until the commercial motor carrier or drivers ceases direct assistance in providing energy relief, whichever occurs first,” and may be extended in the future.

In other news, MNsure open enrollment began yesterday. This program has failed to deliver on its most basic functions of delivering easy access to affordable insurance. Changes the Legislature made this year have helped improve the health care picture in Minnesota, including for people in the ag. business. A new 40 Square health care cooperative program will make six health plans available to ag. workers. Co-op participants can obtain health plans that are self-funded through a member-owned, member-governed system. This is designed to foster transparency and empower Minnesota farm families. Click here for more details on 40 Square as we move closer to the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline.

On a final note, I mentioned this subject in a recent email but just want to remind people of the upcoming public meeting in Marshall to discuss state ditch-mowing policies. The meeting, hosted by MnDOT, will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Wednesday (Nov. 8) at Marshall Middle School (401 S. Saratoga St., Marshall). I have been working closely with this issue and hope you can attend this meeting to provide input. Anyone with questions can contact my office for more information at (651) 296-5374.