Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Buffer strip bill clears the House, heads to governor for signature

Author:

A measure that would roll back some of Minnesota's buffer-strip law has passed the House and is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.

Dayton signed the measure into law last year. It requires that Minnesota farmers install buffer strips of vegetation between fields and public waterways and ditches to protect against runoff. Landowners who fail to install the buffer strips could face fines and other penalties.

But Republicans and agricultural groups who agreed to the measure say they never meant for privately owned ditches to be included in the law.

The bill that cleared the House on a 105-24 vote Thursday, would clarify that landowners are not required to put buffers along private ditches. It also allows local governments to decide whether to regulate the buffer law.

"We modeled this work on work that already has been done in counties across the state that have installed buffers effectively," said Rep. Paul Torkelson to the Pioneer Press.

The bill cleared the Senate last week.

Dayton, who has made improving Minnesota's water quality the top priority of his political agenda, says he supports the changes and is expected to sign the legislation.

He says the vegetative buffers will protect the state's waters, many of which are polluted with water that's unfit for drinking or recreation.

The Star Tribune notes that the new law makes it easier to administer the regulations and will give significant oversight to the Board of Water and Soil Resources. It's passage highlights a week that Dayton dubbed "Water Action Week."

"Tragically, in recent years, the quality of our water has deteriorated in many parts of our state. Too many lakes, rivers, streams and ditches have become contaminated with potentially dangerous chemicals. In some communities, the surface and underground waters our citizens use for drinking, washing, work, and recreation are no longer safe."

The governor has also proposed a $220 million package to upgrade the state's water infrastructure, including money for water treatment plants in rural Minnesota.

But the Associated Press notes that not all Democrats supported the change. Some argued that exempting the private waterways would lead to more pollution in the state's water.

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

Watch: Kirk Cousins lines up under guard on critical 4th down play

Kirk Cousins went "Full Kirk" at the worst possible time.

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook injured, Vikings drop crucial game against 49ers

The Vikings couldn't stop the Niners' rushing attack in a 34-26 loss.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

Related

House sends deadly force bill to governor's desk

The House joined the Senate in approving a measure that would give gun owners more leeway to shoot if they feel threatened. Governor Dayton says he'll give the bill full consideration, but the opposition of law enforcement groups may influence his decision.

Vikings stadium passes Senate, awaits Governor Dayton's signature

The Vikings stadium bill passed through the House and Senate on Thursday. The final proposal raises the Vikings contribution to $477 million of the $975 million stadium. The state would provide $348 million and the City of Minneapolis would fund $150 million. The lengthy debate left state officials fatigued and Viking fans emotional.

Expanded gambling bill heads to Gov. Mark Dayton

House lawmakers gave the legislation final-approve Monday. If the measure is signed into law, it would allow more card tables at Canterbury Park and higher betting limits. It would also give tribal casinos access to simulcast horse racing. Dayton says he needs time to study the bill before making a decision.