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Omnibus bill gets House OK

Published (4/29/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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Instructions on how to properly fold a Minnesota state flag and the legalizing of growing industrialized hemp are included in a bill that passed the House on a 127-3 vote April 27.

As amended to include the House language, the omnibus agriculture and veterans policy bill, HF2678/ SF2737*, sponsored by Rep. Al Juhnke (DFL-Willmar) and Sen. Dan Skogen (DFL-Hewitt), would:

• add an official from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, or a peace officer from the county sheriff’s office, to those who could make a personal inspection of a farmer’s livestock loss due to a gray wolf;

• allow for the growing of industrial hemp as an agriculture crop;

• make technical changes to pesticide applicator references;

• permit the agriculture commissioner to waive certain review fees for businesses that sell prepackaged foods, such as video stores;

• repeal the loan incentive program for native grasses and wildflower seed production;

• allow nonprofit farms less than 40 acres in size to use profits for educational purposes and be exempt from corporate farm land requirements;

• permit cities and towns to charge fees and spend money for county extension work, such as 4-H programs;

• require banks to extend credit to feed mills at the beginning of the process of mediation, resulting in mills being paid for that feed;

• detail procedures on the proper way to fold and present the state flag;

• permit the commissioner of veterans affairs to determine a suitable site and plan for three new state veterans cemeteries in northeastern, southeastern and southwestern Minnesota; and

• require certain conditions to be met before Minnesota would be granted a federal waiver in regards to E-15, including all vehicles being able to use the ethanol mixture regardless of year made. It would also give the Department of Commerce the ability to specify how long it could take gas stations to set up for the ability to deliver E-15.

Several successful amendments were offered including one by Rep. Dan Severson (R-Sauk Rapids) that would add all veteran-owned businesses to those able to obtain preference in bidding for state contracts. The amendment would allow those who became veterans before Sept. 11 to bid on the excess percentage of contracts set aside for preferential groups. Currently, only those who became veterans after that date are included in veterans preference.

Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) offered an amendment that would have added gambling machines at horse racing facilities in the state. Profits would assist agricultural and rural development, research and development of bioscience and medical technology business and employment opportunities and provide stadium funding for the Minnesota Vikings and St. Paul Saints. It was ruled out of order.

The Senate did not concur with the changes April 28. A conference committee is expected to work out the differences.

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