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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

St. Paul – Representative Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) announced he will not support HF976, the Environment and Agriculture Policy and Finance Omnibus bill, when it comes to the House floor for consideration today. The bill is the final product of weeks of hearings on various environmental regulations and policies that impact farmers and ag processing facilities. It would spend roughly $47 million more of state money on these programs when compared to the previous biennium, using millions in new fees and taxes.

“HF 976 is a dangerous and targeted government overreach that will impact Minnesotans for decades to come,” Johnson said Thursday. “After significant influence by environmental groups, hardworking taxpayers in our district could now pay more for everyday products and to run their businesses and farms.”

One signature piece of the legislation is the skyrocketing of water permit fees, which are paid by farmers for irrigation and other businesses. The fee would more than double. Part of the fee will be used to pay for new drilling of groundwater test sites throughout Minnesota, an effort already paid for by taxpayers through the watershed districts that perform groundwater monitoring. In addition, the new wells could take up to 90 years to complete.

Johnson also commented on other portions of the bill:

“The bill also collects new lake property fees on permits purchased to handle aquatic plant growth and algae and also lifts a cap on how much adjoined properties would have to pay in total. This is a tax increase targeted directly at districts like ours in order to satisfy various metro-based interests and will end up hurting our local economy.

Going even further, House Democrats are imposing a new ‘Stewardship’ tax on household products such as paint, carpet and even batteries. The new fees will be charged to those that sell these products, with the added cost being sent through to consumers. County-based programs for recycling these products already exist, but the new taxes collected are needed to fund other parts of this overreaching legislation.”

Johnson can be reached by phone at (651) 296-4346. He can also be contacted via e-mail at, or via U.S. Mail at 233 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.