Category Archives: Paul Anderson

Rep. Paul Anderson (12B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

Hello from St. Paul, where we are nearing the end of Week 3 in the 2015 session. Here is a recap of some things that have come across my radar.

We are examining issues pertaining to ground water which have significant impacts in our area. The DNR recognizes quantity and quality in its decision-making process for irrigation purposes. I believe those should be two separate issues. If ground water levels are stable, then let’s act appropriately. If there are water-quality issues, let’s address those, too, but separately.

I believe farmers and all residents in our area voluntarily conserve water and encourage them to do so. Local input is important as we work to bring improvements and I welcome your thoughts on the matter.

On a related note, we recently received word Gov. Mark Dayton is looking to expand buffers around our waters. Specifically, he proposes that “a 50 foot [grass or similar] buffer be placed around all state waters.” This requirement would be “enforced by the DNR through aerial and other inspections.’’

One quote from Dayton especially caused a stir: “The land may be yours. But the water belongs to all of us, and to all who will follow all of us.’’

This announcement came as a surprise to many and it comes with numerous questions. How would this impact farmers and other landowners? Where will the funding come from to pay for this plan? Are we comfortable having the DNR supersede local governments in enforcing these regulations?

The vast majority of farmers I know are careful stewards of their land. They do their best to minimize erosion and maximize productivity from their acres.

Maybe common-sense improvements will prevail from the governor having floated this proposal but, for now, we need to do a lot more investigating to answer these questions and a whole lot more. The changes could be profound in areas of the state like ours and we need to determine exactly what this proposal would mean.

I will keep you posted as things unfold but, again, please send me your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Paul

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Rep. Paul Anderson (12B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

I hope all is well and just want to update you with some notebook items.

First of all, congratulations to the Minnewaska school district for earning a $25,000 safe-driving award from State Farm Insurance. Waska was one of just four national winners!

As for news from St. Paul, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget issued a new economic forecast on Thursday. It calls for a projected state surplus of more than $1 billion through 2016-17.

There are a couple of ways to look at this. On one hand, it is great news that we will have some wiggle room as we set a new two-year state budget during the 2015 session. On the other hand, it indicates hard-working Minnesotans have paid too much in taxes.

The key in 2015 will be to strike a balance. My approach will be to set a budget that funds our priorities without increasing taxes. Just two years ago the current House majority passed the largest tax increase our state has ever seen. That turned into rising revenue for the state, but families have not had the same luxury since earnings have remained flat.

A top priority in the upcoming legislative session should be to provide those people with tax relief instead of rushing out to find new ways to spend their money.

We also should keep in mind our new economic forecast merely provides us with a sketch of budget parameters. Things can change before our next forecast, due in February. That report will serve as the official set of numbers as we set a new budget.

Take care, hope you are getting those Christmas lights up and we’ll be back soon with more news.

Sincerely,

Paul

Rep. Paul Anderson (12B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

A number of new laws will go on the books July 1 and below is some information on that subject, as well as an update regarding flood relief. Many of the changes are budgetary following a $263 million supplemental spending bill that passed this year in light of our $1.23 billion surplus forecast in February. Health and Human Services will receive the greatest increase at $104 million. This is largely due to the $80 million (5 percent) increase we provided to home- and community-based care providers. A notable non-budget set of changes is designed to help curb the theft of smartphones.

Effective this July 1, 2014, all Minnesota phone dealers must keep a written record of each acquisition that includes information about the device, the seller of the device and more. Manufacturers will have until July 1, 2015, to equip phones with the antitheft function.

Click here for complete details on the new laws.

The column I submitted to area newspapers this week pertained to recovery efforts after huge amounts of rain hit Minnesota this month. Here are some of the key points: There are 35 counties included in a State of Emergency declared by an Executive Order from Gov. Mark Dayton. This makes a wide range of state resources/assistance available and engages state agencies. I was surprised that none of the counties in District 12B – Douglas, Pope and Stearns – were left off the eligibility list. The way it works is individual counties total up their damages to uninsured public structures, and if they reach certain amounts, they would be declared disaster counties. The formula uses population figures and multiplies that by a set dollar amount, in this case, $3.50, to come up with individual county thresholds.

For Stearns County, whose 2010 census figure was just over 150,000, the threshold is just over $527,000. The figure for Pope County with its population of just under 11,000 is $38,000. And for Douglas County and its 36,000 residents, the amount is just over $126,000. Under new state disaster legislation, if damage in a county amounts to one-half of those set figures, they would become eligible for disaster aid.Also, I have said some of the largest losses are to agriculture in the form of eroded top soil and lost crop production. If individual counties are declared disaster areas, farmers in those and adjacent counties will be eligible for federal aid in the form of emergency loans. Losses must exceed 30 percent in crops or livestock.

Rural Finance Authority disaster loans are also a possibility that can be utilized for losses not covered by insurance such as feed stocks being washed away. We are still awaiting word as to whether Gov. Mark Dayton will call a special session so we can provide flood relief beyond the $3 million that is available without the Legislature convening. Let me know if I can be of assistance to anyone with questions or problems dealing with the excess water situation.

Please contact my office in St. Paul at 651-296-4317 or my home phone at 320-239-2726.

Sincerely,

Paul

Rep. Paul Anderson (12B) – Legislative Update

Dear Neighbor,

Twin cities media is finally picking up on the story of too much rain in farm country, and its implications for reduced crop production this year. More heavy rain this past weekend has many wondering when this spate of wetness will end. Reports of up to three inches around Belgrade and over six inches in the Willmar area left much farm land and even parking lots under water. And the forecast is calling for chances of rain every day throughout the rest of this week.

I visited with several farmers in New Munich last weekend and heard about their efforts at putting up hay. One told of chopping haylage nearly all night and getting stuck in wet field conditions several times. He reported having to unhook the wagon from the chopper and pull it out backward. One can imagine the ruts and deep holes left in the field under such conditions.

Time is also running out for those who still have fields left to plant, or those who would like to re-plant areas that have drowned out because of standing water. As we approach the end of June, yields of crops planted this late would probably be greatly reduced. Dairymen and others who raise livestock may still decide to keep planting if they are short of feed supplies for their animals.

Water levels are also rising on area lakes and rivers which could impact resort and campground business. Because the season is so short in Minnesota, owners would like to utilize every weekend and keep their facilities occupied.

The amount of rain received in some areas during the past three weeks has been staggering. Some of the hardest hit areas have received upwards of 10 to 12 inches or even more. The ground hasn’t had a chance to dry out between rain events, which has made field work extremely challenging. There’s an old farming axiom that says too much rain is better than too little; however, I think we’ve reached a point where nearly everyone is saying “enough is enough.”

Sincerely,

Paul