Someone's not clear on the concept of downstream.
In a comment on his own campaign Facebook page, freshman state representative Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) writes:
Tim Miller Minnesota House 17A I have spoken with landowners who agree with these buffers and others who say it won't make a difference. The important thing for me here is the government a.) grabbing more land; and b.) Dayton is making enforcement sound like a police state. This should greatly trouble anyone who believes in the American value of land ownership. We are slowly becoming a nation where the king is telling us what we can and cannot do on his land.
If Dayton is king, then the logic of Miller's metaphor suggests that House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Chair Representative Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) is the new Sheriff of Nottingham.
On Sunday, Pioneer Press outdoor writer Dave Orrick reported in Dayton proposes 50-foot waterway buffers to help pheasant population:
"I'm psyched," McNamara said. "Uniformity is a great idea. Buffer strips are great for the environment, and 50 feet is better than 16 feet. Yes, there's going to be pushback, and we're going to have to work together."
On a more serious note, Miller's remarks are concerning for several reasons. First, the notion that a landowner may harm public waters and people downstream because he or she owns private property is rather peculiar.
On Saturday, Star Tribune staff writer Josephine Marcotty reported in Dayton wants tougher water and wildlife protection law:
Minnesota has required buffer strips on farmland for years, the only state in the country to do so, but the law is often not enforced. Demand for enforcement has risen in recent months, from hunters, anglers, beekeepers and environmentalists worried about precipitous declines in wildlife and rising agricultural pollution in the southern half of the state.
Dayton’s proposal, however, would go well beyond the current law, and if it passes it would represent a major shift in environmental policy that environmentalists have wanted for years. Farmers and other land owners are largely immune from water pollution laws related to runoff — the buffer law is one of the very few on the books.
In a letter to a district voters about same-sex marriage, Miller has already expressed the sentiment that farmers deserve special rights, as he does not believe in equal rights. Perhaps those special rights Miller favors include polluting water and contributing to the creation of a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Second, the notion that enforcing laws on private property is indicative of a police state might come as a surprise to local law enforcement personnel, who are frequently called to do so when they field reports about underage drinking, domestic abuse, animal neglect and the like.
On the other hand, Miller's alarm that DNR enforcement of buffer laws through the leveling of fines will create a police state may also come as quite a surprise to those marching in today's Martin Luther King Jr rallies who are concerned about the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in New York City. Bluestem recommends that they open a dialogue with Miller about defining the phrase.
Finally, one earnest friend who lives in the highest spot in Big Stone County has made the modest proposal on Facebook that perhaps Tim Miller can introduce a law that puts us all upstream. This might make Big Stone and Traverse Counties a bit more crowded than they are now, but will definitely address the issues generated by an aging population in the western boundary waters.
In the meantime, it's worth noting that much of Minnesota's population lives downstream of Representative Miller.
Here's a screenshot of the Facebook remark in context:
For our earlier post on Representative Miller's opinion of the Governor's proposal, check out MN Soybean Growers & Rep. Miller totally agree governor's buffer strip proposal "Not good."
Photos: Tim Miller, via his personal Facebook page (above); the comment on his campaign Facebook page (below).
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