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Health insurance relief, taxes and buffers strips

To the Editor:
The second week of the legislative session has come to a close. I want to keep you updated on a few items of note from the Capitol.
I wrote in last week’s update about the passage of health insurance premium relief (see the bill at http://bit.ly/premiumrelief) in the Senate. The health insurance relief package, intended for Minnesotans who buy from the individual market and whose premiums have dramatically risen, passed the House. Since the House and Senate versions are slightly different, a joint conference committee will meet to work out the differences before being voted on again by each body.
I also wrote about tax conformity in the previous letter. The tax relief package (see the bill at http://bit.
ly/taxconformity), which includes $21 million in new income tax deductions and other relief, was signed into law by Gov. Dayton — just in time for the 2016 tax filing period.
Many of you have commented on the change in buffer strip requirements enacted last year; the change requires a 50-foot grassy buffer along most bodies of water. This change in law has resulted in a largely negative effect on farmers’ gross incomes. It also raises the legitimate question of whether the government should be allowed to effectively take the use of a person’s land through the regulatory process without paying the property owner for the value of the land. I believe this requirement is an unreasonable mandate that metro-area environmental lobbies pushed through without consideration of the many Greater Minnesota farmers faced with giving up the use of valuable real estate without compensation. I am optimistic that we will be able to find a workable solution.
State Sen. Scott Newman