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

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This week's news from St. Paul

Friday, April 13, 2018
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Thank you to Dawn Heglund, Laura Ostelie, and Scott Marquart from the Regional Development Commission for meeting with me at the Capitol this week to talk about broadband and childcare.

Dear Neighbor,

The big news this week centered on a House committee hearing where the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources addressed an onerous proposal it introduced that could have resulted in thousands of dollars in fines for farmers who are even a few feet out of compliance across their entire property.

The Administrative Penalty Order BWSR issued last week would fine farmers out of compliance with Minnesota’s riparian buffer law by up to $500 per linear foot. This is obviously the wish list of the governor and his administration and Democrats across the state.

I have been an ardent opponent of new buffer regulations and strongly oppose the proposed fine structure. Farmers across the state are the best stewards of the land, who have kept land in their families for hundreds of years. The approach BWSR took on this is just ridiculous. We need to create an incentive-based program that incentivizes farmers, not hand out egregious fines to farmers for non-compliance.

Fortunately, BWSR finally saw the light and pulled back its proposed rule so we can find a better way. If you have suggestions, a comment period lasts until 4:30 p.m. April 16 and can be submitted by email to In the meantime, we are working in the House to bring more oversight to rules so that unelected boards in the governor’s administration can’t just unilaterally make changes that may have serious consequences for people.

Cold-weather heating rule expires

Minnesota’s cold-weather heating rule expires on Sunday, meaning utility customers who are behind on their bills must set up payment plans in order to avoid being left in the cold.

The state’s cold-weather rule takes effect each winter to protect citizens from having their heat shut off when temperatures fall. While the protection can help people avoid dangerous situations, it is incumbent upon customers to communicate with their utility provider and set up a plan if necessary. Financial assistance is available and companies are willing to work with people to set up a plan, but the customer really needs to stay engaged and should initiate contact.

I also want to warn people that scammers are trying to take advantage of people by calling them on the phone and demanding payments be made immediately, often with a credit card. The best way to avoid that is by reaching out directly to your utility provider.”

Minnesota’s cold-weather rule lasts from Oct. 15 to April 15 each season. A Minnesota Public Utilities Commission link includes much more information on shut-off protection and other resources that are available to Minnesotans.