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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, May 3, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

This week has been packed with lengthy floor sessions lasting until midnight as the House works to get omnibus bills through the process ahead of our May 20 adjournment.

We anticipate the omnibus agriculture bill (H.F. 4975) will come to the floor for a vote soon. Unfortunately, it targets certain groups instead of helping all those who want to get into farming. Our state has a long history of being a powerhouse in ag production, and we should be supporting all those who want to get into farming.

The Legislature last year greatly expanded funding for the Emerging Farmers Office. The heavy emphasis on emerging BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ farmers, for example, has in some ways come at the expense of the needs of conventional farmers. Instead of prioritizing all beginning farmers, the latest bill which passed the House prioritizes applicants with no more than $100,000 in gross farm income and who produce hemp, marijuana, or other specialty crops.

I also oppose a provision in the ag bill which diverts money from the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) and ends the popular program. This is especially frustrating. AFREC is a farmer-funded program that is helping to address issues of high nitrates in drinking water. That program is due for renewal and some legislators want to divert those dollars to other programs. I disagree with redirecting those dollars away from AFREC, especially at a time when southeastern Minnesota is experiencing issues related to nitrates in groundwater.

Senate Democrats oppose this move, and even the governor recommends AFREC programming for five more years. I hope a conference committee eliminates this part of the bill before it comes back for a vote on final passage. The bill (H.F. 4975) passed the House mainly along party lines and is now in the hands of the Senate. It also includes measures related to energy and commerce.

An environment omnibus bill (H.F. 3911) the majority approved this week also included numerous provisions that could be damaging to agriculture. One measure requires sellers of agricultural land to disclose in writing the status and location of all known drain tile on the property, along with a map that shows outlets and water control structures, and the drainage water flow path for the first mile downstream of the tile. This is an added burden that seems unwarranted.

Another measure in the environment bill states that public waters are not determined exclusively by being on or off the public waters inventory list. This opens up the DNR to more land on the public waters map by causing uncertainty as it pertains to buffer strips.

On another subject, the majority has approved three anti-Second Amendment bills this week. They include new laws on firearm storage (H.F. 4300), requirements for reporting stolen firearms (H.F. 601), along with a new “trigger activator” definition that may impact some commonly used guns and render them illegal (H.F. 2609).

The main concern with these bills is they all would do more to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens than take a serious approach to cracking down on the real bad actors. One of those bills, H.F. 601, even makes criminals out of crime victims who don’t report a firearm theft in the government’s prescribed amount of time.

I’ll be back with more from the House soon as we continue making our way to the end of this session.