(Saint Paul, Minnesota) Farmers and Republicans are speaking out against the proposed legislation to include waterway buffers for all perennial waters in Minnesota, including drainage ditches.

The bill is authored in the Senate by Democratic Senator John Marty of Ramsey County, and in the House by Republican Representative Paul Torkelson, who released a statement explaining he is carrying the governor’s legislation in hopes of making significant improvements to it during the committee hearing process.

During an interview with Alpha News, Senator Marty explained why he is supporting this legislation, stating that despite outcries that it may be too expensive of an endeavor that he thinks it’s, “Too expensive not to do it” explaining, “It’s important for everyone in the State that we take care of public waters.”

Senator Bill Weber of Luverne is looking at this issue from the stance of property rights. Senator Weber explained to Alpha News that Minnesota property owners are protected under a “Highest and Best Use” provision, stating, “There’s also an item called Highest and Best Use, and that is you have a right to enjoy your property in its highest and best use, and highest and best use is a property right term that refers to utilizing the property essentially to its fullest extent. If you reduce the ability of people to utilize property in that manner, you have removed some of their bundle of rights that they hold, that forms their total ownership, and as a result they have a right to be compensated.”

Senator Marty responded to Senator Weber’s concern, stating, “Farmers can still park equipment, farm hay, and allow animals to graze. They can still do whatever they want on that buffer land.”

A spokesman for the McCleod County Farm Bureau, Randall Thalmann who explains, “The last thing in the world you want to do is graze cattle next to a waterway…they tend to take a drink…and leave ‘things’ there… and the other thing is that 90% of the farmers don’t have any equipment to cut this grass hay, it’s absolutely silly, and they don’t have livestock.”

Others are supporting this legislation in an attempt to help Minnesota’s pheasant population. Senator Weber, however, believes that this legislation will actually have a detrimental effect to the population, stating, “You sort of force your pheasant population to go into those areas for their nesting. What you’ve done is created a buffet line for your predators. They can just go right down the line attacking the pheasant hens, destroying the clutches of eggs, all those type of things, and in my opinion, will be very damaging for the overall nesting patterns of our birds.”

Alpha News will continue to track this proposed legislation. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with all happenings at the Minnesota State Legislature.

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