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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Josh Heintzeman

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Friday marks the final committee deadline, meaning that much of this week was spent in committee working on omnibus finance bills. While the state’s two-year budget was enacted last year, historically the legislature makes spending adjustments during odd-numbered years that reflect the most recent budget forecast as well as to cover any unexpected costs that may have come up in the past year.

This year’s budget target adjustments were approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last week. These targets reflect the priorities of Minnesotans and look to build on the successes of last session that saw historic tax relief for Minnesotans and a major investment in our roads and bridges.

We are proposing to devote the largest portion of the budget surplus toward simplifying Minnesota’s tax code so that Minnesotans will be able to  benefit from the recent federal tax reform and to provide additional tax relief to the middle-class. Other major investments will focus on common-sense issues like continuing to fix our roads and bridges infrastructure and improving student safety.

These omnibus bills are set to hit the House floor in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more information as session reaches its final month.

As you recall, in last week’s update I shared information regarding an Administrative Penalty Order (APO) that was being proposed by the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) that would have fined farmers up to $500 per linear foot if they were out of compliance with the state’s riparian buffer laws.

Thanks to outcry and pressure applied by farm groups, farmers and GOP lawmakers, Governor Dayton and BWSR backed off of this proposed fine and rescinded the APO.

Just this week, there was legislation before the House that dealt with a similar issue between Governor Dayton and the agricultural community. House File 2887 was approved on a bipartisan vote of 69-56 on Monday and would prevent the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) from adopting mandatory rules, or “water resource protection requirements,” for nitrogen fertilizers unless the proposed rules are approved by the Legislature.

MDA is currently undertaking a rulemaking process, under authority granted in the 1989 Groundwater Protection Act, to regulate the fall application of nitrogen fertilizer in areas it has deemed vulnerable to nitrate pollution.

Nitrate pollution can adversely affect drinking water.

This legislation is less about the science behind the rule and more about the process. This proposed rule came late enough in the process that the legislature did not have proper time to vet it through the committee process. Additionally, farm groups felt like they were not at the negotiating table when the rule was being considered.

Farmers are some of the best stewards of our land and everyone wants to ensure that our drinking water is safe for future generations of Minnesotans, but if we are thinking about implementing rules that could have a negative impact on farmers, we need to makes sure that they are included in the discussion.

Finally, I am happy to report that this year’s State Government Finance omnibus bill includes funding for three new veterans homes. The new homes would be located in Preston, Montevideo, and Bemidji with the state’s share of the funding coming from the Vikings Stadium Reserve Account.

As a strong supporter of our veterans and the chief author of legislation that would exempt their social security from state income tax, I am happy to see this included in the State Government Finance omnibus. Let’s hope the Governor signs the bill!

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Members of the Brainerd Area Chamber of Commerce visited this week. Thanks for stopping by!

That’s all for this week, as always, I encourage you to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments regarding state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4333 or via email at

Have a great weekend,