This may not be an official budget year in the Legislature, but finance issues still are in the mix as supplemental budget work moves to the forefront. Look for more on that subject another time.
Until then, one of this week’s biggest issues was another classic example of government on steroids. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources issued an Administrative Penalty Order last week that would fine farmers out of compliance with Minnesota’s riparian buffer law by up to $500 per linear foot. That could have resulted in thousands of dollars in fines for farmers who are even a few feet out of buffer zone compliance across their entire property.
Fortunately, House members called an emergency committee meeting on Thursday to address this situation and BWSR has backed away from this nonsense. Their proposed fines were excessive and it just goes to show what happens when bureaucrats who don’t have a grasp on reality in Greater Minnesota start making decisions for us.
This extreme action by an administrative body actually is something I was concerned about all along as the Twin Cities environmentalists rammed this buffer law into place. I have responded by authoring a bill that would require legislative approval before changes such as the one BWSR proposed could take effect. We have enough of our own problems in Greater Minnesota without government adding to the burden.
Meantime, a comment period on the buffers issue lasts until 4:30 p.m. April 16 and can be submitted by email to email@example.com. Please weigh in. And, also any input you can provide legislators regarding the bill I am authoring to protect us from similar overreach down the road would be very much appreciated.
On a side note to this subject, the governor came out and said he was surprised to learn of BWSR’s proposed fine rule. This has become a pattern, where the governor claims ignorance when something runs afoul. It has happened on issues ranging from Vikings stadium seat licenses to structural problems with MNsure and MNLARS and now this.
It is a big problem if our governor is out of the loop on such important issues, so this week I joined a number of fellow House members in sending a letter to the governor asking him to release the draft nitrate rule he announced in March instead of waiting until next month to do so. As the letter states, even if the rule has not been finalized, releasing the latest draft will give farmers, legislators, and other members of the public an opportunity to seek changes or adjustments before it enters the formal public comment period.
This is the governor’s chance to correct his course and help us avoid the repeating the same mistakes that led to the recent BWSR fiasco.