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Legislative Update (3-8-19)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Neighbor,

On Wednesday evening, the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee (of which I am a member) heard H.F. 1284/S.F. 1443, aka the Birth of Another Agency Bill.

The proposal would give Soil and Water Conservation Districts the authority to levy taxes. If they chose to do so, they could impose a fee on property owners. They would then be required to set up an account or fund.

This is not unlike the watershed districts, some of which now have in excess of $5 million in the bank. They are buying land for investment and renting it out. As if we didn’t have enough property tax burden.

I commend the SWCDs for their work, but we do not want grow another agency.

The bill also would allow SWCDs to establish their own soil and water management areas within their territory for collecting revenues and paying the costs of programs and projects. They can impose fees to pay for the management apart from the levy they have imposed.

In other news, we recently received disappointing news that Enbridge has pushed back Line 3 until 2020. It seems one of the governor’s first actions to stick it to the “rocks and cows” in Greater Minnesota has succeeded.

So what does this mean in real terms? One more year of delays, risking possible leaking or maybe a rupture in the 50-year-old pipeline. The loss of much-needed property tax revenue for counties – money that supports our schools, police forces, counties, townships and tribal services.

And, something that gets overlooked in the discussion:This project would create hundreds of jobs in our area for a wide range of workers . I have spoken with people from minority-run companies looking to hire a sizeable share of minority employees, an influx of employment that would help people in our region.

I have a lot more to say on this subject and submitted a letter to newspapers in our area with other details. I urge you to check local publications for this full piece as well, or click here.

-Steve

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