During a partisan gubernatorial forum in Marshall, Minnesota, State Senator Dave Osmek, R-Mound, ranted about the state's buffer law, daring those in attendance to produce a bill number for legislative votes for the law.
The Marshall Independent's Deb Gau reports in Speaking out against government overreach; Four GOP candidates for governor at forum:
“The biggest problem I have with this whole subject is that we’re under the control of King Mark Dayton I,” Osmek said. “Name the bill number where we actually, legislatively, passed the buffer laws . . . There isn’t one. Why? Because (Dayton) did it by his own rule-making authority.”
Osmek called for reforms for gubernatorial rule-making authority, and to repeal the buffer law and similar regulations. Minnesota needed to “repeal every one of these laws, and let the local governments deal with them,” he said. [Italics in original article].
Fact check: recent buffer bill numbers
Osmek's memory doesn't seem particularly good about buffer laws passed by the Minnesota legislature and signed by Governor Dayton. The first bill passed and signed by Governor Dayton was SF5, the Omnibus agriculture, environment and natural resources appropriations bill, passed by both houses on June 12, 2015 and signed by the governor the next day.
Ozmek voted for the bill, according to online records.
The Star Tribune's Doug Smith reported on the matter in Dayton signs bill to mandate buffers to improve water quality and habitat.
Dayton had vetoed an earlier environmental bill for reasons unrelated to the buffer language in the legislation, the Star Tribune reported at the time of the veto.
In 2016, the law was tweaked by the legislature. According to a post on the Governor's website, Governor Dayton Signs Bills into Law:
Chapter 85, SF 2503: This bill clarifies the buffer law passed by the Minnesota legislature last year.
There's a bill number for Senator Osmek. The bill passed in the Senate on a 61-0 roll call vote; Senator Osmek voted for it.
Via the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Forum News Service reported in Dayton signs bill revising land ‘buffer strip’ water-quality law:
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Monday legislation that clarifies a conservation law enacted last year requiring vegetative buffer strips around water.
The buffer strip change exempts privately owned ditches from the law. Dayton opposed dropping private ditches, but gave in to requests from rural Minnesota interests.
Dayton says vegetative buffers will protect state waters from chemical and other runoff from croplands. Many Minnesota waters, especially in the southwest, are not fit for drinking and recreation.
Before the legislation sponsored by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, and Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, passed, there was confusion about whether private ditches were regulated under the buffer strip law.
In 2017, Minnesota's buffer law was visited yet again by the legislature. Dayton vetoed HF888 for an number of reasons spelled out in this veto letter.
The conference committee reported for the reworked Omnibus environment and natural resources appropriation bill (SF844) passed the Senate on May 21, 2017. Osmek voted for it (pg. 5701 vote: 42-2).
Outdoor News' Joe Albert reported in Dayton signs off on outdoor-related bills:
Gov. Mark Dayton late Tuesday afternoon signed into law several bills that do everything from fund the DNR to disburse money from the Outdoor Heritage and Environment and Natural Resources Trust funds. He also signed off on a bonding bill that includes $10 million for a portion of the state’s responsibility for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
Dayton’s signature on budget bills, including the aforementioned one that funds the state’s environment and natural resources agencies, heads off a state government shutdown. In a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Dayton said he was signing the budget bills to “forestall a bitter June showdown over a state government shutdown. I have strong disagreements with certain provisions in every one of these bills.”
Dayton previously had vetoed an omnibus environment and natural resources budget bill, but signed a reworked bill that made only slight modifications to the state’s buffer law (allowing certain landowners eight-month waivers for installing buffers or alternative practices) . . .
Buffer law existed prior to Dayton administration
Perhaps the oddest part of Osmek's rant is his threat to "repeal every one of these laws, and let the local governments deal with them."
Bluestem wonders if he's considering cleansing Minnesota statutes of every bit of language related to buffers, Daytonesque or not. According to a 2006 study about public ditches mandated by the legislature in 2005:
The requirement for grass strips along certain public drainage ditches is contained in Minnesota Statutes, Section 103E.021 – “Ditches must be planted with permanent grass.” Drainage authorities were first given an ability to require minimum 1-rod grass strips along public drainage ditches in 1959. The principal purpose apparently was to help reduce ditch maintenance requirements related to tillage to the edge of public ditches. In 1977, the Legislature changed this permissive authority to a requirement triggered by the appointment of viewers by the drainage authority to determine benefits and damages for a ditch system. Drainage proceedings that necessitate the appointment of viewers include establishment, improvement, certain major repairs, and redetermination of benefits.
Does Osmek want to go back to 1959? 1977? His own votes? Perhaps he's just absorbed with his own posturing (another example here), rather than sound policy making.
Bonus irony: The commissioners for Lyon County, Minnesota, where the forum took place, have exercised the option provided by buffer law to enforce the buffer, the Independent reported in Lyon County says it will take on buffer enforcement. The paper reported in Lyon County sets buffer ordinance hearing that the proposed ordinance would receive a November 21 hearing.
Yes, it's the local government dealing with buffers.
Photo: Dave Osmek, running for governor and against his own votes.
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