IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR 2016
Farm Taps • Infrastructure • Property Taxation
Farm Drainage and the Environment • Buffer Issue • Minnesota River Quality
Campground Septage • Designated Certified Individuals
Minnesota Chapter of Land Improvement Contractors of America
“Farm tap” is the term used for a natural gas line that connects an end user such
as a farm, to a pipeline. In actuality, the tap is the valve and other apparatus that
are owned by a distribution company. In Minnesota nearly all taps are owned by
Minnesota Energy Resources (MERC-PNG). MERC-PNG is in the process of
renegotiating these taps with the Public Utilities Commission, with an allowance
for reverting ownership of the privately owned gas lines to MERC-PNG. MERCPNG
would then be able to replace existing lines, and charge end users for the
The change in ownership of the service line would mean that when a locate
request is made, the line leading to the end user would be marked by MERC-PNG.
MN LICA encourages taking steps to make safe working conditions around farm
taps and their connected gas lines safer for those working around them.
Since schools in Minnesota are largely funded through property tax, building
projects can affect landowners and farmers. Some areas are being assessed real
estate taxes of $50 to $70 per acre. With declining commodity prices and acres
lost to buffers, taxes become proportionally higher. The high taxes lower
Minnesota land values and push many farmer’s projected profits into a deficit at a
time when commodity prices are dropping.
MN LICA supports legislation that would reduce high real estate taxes and
provide alternatives to real estate taxation to fund school infrastructure.
As the deadline for farmers to have buffers installed approaches, a number of
problems persist with the rules. Among those problems is that alternative
practices must be approved on a case by case basis. There is some thought that
the lack of options for landowners and the threat of heavy fines may drive some
operators to sue the state, with the assertion that the 2015 Buffer Law
constitutes a “takings.” Another problem is that the rules do not address the
reduction of income generating acres that continue to be liable for property tax.
Yet another problem is the introduction of the noxious weed, Palmer Amaranth,
through seed brought into Minnesota. With so many acres needing to be seeded
before November, it will be difficult to assure that seed purity will not be
MN LICA encourages legislators to delay the deadline for buffer implementation
due to the number of unresolved issues.
MN LICA thanks the legislators for taking steps to provide affordable healthcare to
Minnesotans. Many of our members, families and neighbors have been dropped
by insurance companies as the “Affordable Care Act” has come into being.
MN LICA encourages legislators to develop a plan to provide Minnesotans
health insurance options in the event of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Routing of Overweight and Oversized Loads
Until a few years ago, a carrier of overweight or oversized loads could do a certain amount of self routing, meaning the carrier chose the route. Now all loads on state and federal highways must be routed through the state. Difficulty happens when a need for a particular machine arises, such as a farmer has a combine stuck in a field and needs a dozer to pull it out, but the dozer operator must wait for the state to route the machine to the combine. Additionally the state does not route on local or county roads, which can lead to unnecessarily long routes.
MN LICA proposes returning to the option of self routing for oversize and overweight loads.
Good roads and bridges are the backbone of Minnesota, allowing the transportation of commodities, equipment, and goods. It has been several years since Minnesota has had a comprehensive “transportation bill.” This problem is made worse when revenue from transportation sources like fuel taxes, license fees and the like are diverted to the general fund.
MN LICA supports the allocation of fuel and other transportation related taxes to the transportation fund, not the general fund.
The issue of recreational marijuana has been introduced to the Minnesota Legislature. For members of MN LICA, the legalization of recreational marijuana is a problem. All workers deserve a safe working environment, and the use of recreational marijuana runs counter to that effort. Federal laws for truck drivers and other safety sensitive workers also limit marijuana use, with cases of employees being legitimately fired or not hired after failing a drug test.
MN LICA recommends that recreational marijuana not be legal in Minnesota.
Wetland Restoration and Other Programs
Programs such as RIM are intended to provide restoration of wetlands and provide other environmental practices, through perpetual easements. However, these programs are time consuming, with some taking up to four or five years, the bulk of that time spent in paperwork and in dealing with multiple governmental agencies. If the process is not made simpler and quicker it will be a dissuasion for those people that are not environmentally minded.
MN LICA encourages governmental agencies to take steps to simplify the process in order to complete projects in a reasonable amount of time.
While your beliefs and ours may not be exactly the same, we recognize that you are serving your district and state to make Minnesota better. We thank you for your commitment, and encourage you to contact any of us if we can be of any assistance to you.
MN LICA says “Thank you for meeting with us today!”