Column: Disagreements to be expected

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 17, 2001

At this writing, House and Senate budget negotiators were still working to reach an agreement on major tax and spending bills.

Sunday, June 17, 2001

At this writing, House and Senate budget negotiators were still working to reach an agreement on major tax and spending bills. The House is scheduled to continue the special session tomorrow. While I’m disappointed the legislature and the governor haven’t finished the session – especially in light of the May 25 budget agreement – I don’t necessarily agree that the budget impasse is a sign of bad government.

Email newsletter signup

I think it’s healthy that there are disagreements. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that with an Independent Governor, a DFL-led Senate and a Republican House, there were bound to be contentious deliberations. When just one party is in control of the legislature, there are fewer disagreements. But there is also less willingness to reform and improve. As President Harry Truman once said, wherever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.

Agriculture news

One of the few major bills at the legislature ready to be enacted is the omnibus agricultural bill. House and Senate conferees agreed to a farm bill that contains funding to assist livestock producers in upgrading their feedlots to meet strict new environmental regulations, funding to assist the state’s dairy farmers, more support for farm marketing programs and continued funding for organic and sustainable agriculture programs.

Regretfully, the farm bill has no new initiatives for the state’s ethanol producers (the Exol plant will continue to be fully funded). But the interesting news comes from Washington, D.C., where President Bush has said &uot;no&uot; to the state of California to their request to be exempted from the Clean Air Act requirement to use clean fuel additives. As a result, California will likely become a big customer for ethanol. This is great news for corn growers in the Midwest, including Minnesota. Because of our continued commitment to grow the ethanol industry here, Minnesota will be in a good position to help meet California’s expected ethanol demand.

Other action in Washington, D.C., may have an effect on Minnesota’s dairy farmers as well. There’s renewed speculation that Congress may move to kill the Northwest Dairy Compact in September. The Compact was created by Congress in 1996 to help New England farmers by setting a minimum price that farmers receive for a gallon of milk. As a result, consumers there pay some of the highest milk prices in the nation. If the compact is repealed, a market would open for more efficient Midwestern milk producers, including those in Minnesota.

What do you think? I welcome your input and ideas. Please call me at home at 377-9441 or at the legislature, toll-free, at 1-877-377-9441. My legislative office address is 579 State Office Building, 100 Constitution Ave., St. Paul, MN 55155. My e-mail address is: And for you dads, have a great Father’s Day!