Buffer bills stalls, but hope remains

ST. PAUL — The buffer bills aren't moving in the Legislature, however the issue is very much alive.

Gov. Mark Dayton

ST. PAUL — The buffer bills aren't moving in the Legislature; however, the issue is very much alive.

In separate interviews last week, Gov. Mark Dayton and Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said they are talking about how to improve the quality of Minnesota's water.

Dayton said they've agreed on the need for a collaborative and meaningful bill. Dayton has also met with representatives from Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farm Bureau and the state's corn and soybean grower groups to discuss the proposal.

Strong support exists for clean water, he said, and he's cautiously optimistic something will emerge from this session.

He is willing to compromise on 50-foot buffers, saying he wants best practices.


"The goal is to have cleaner water for Minnesota," Dayton said. Providing wildlife habitat is a secondary incentive.

The governor is listening, Torkelson said, and he has changed his position somewhat, which is welcome. It's a complicated issue, and one size doesn't fit all.

Torkelson said he works on the issue everyday, and he's optimistic something can emerge this session.

"I haven't given up," he said.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, the author of the buffer legislation in the Senate, said there's a real chance of progress this year. He is encouraging people to talk and isn't taking a lead role in putting the legislation together, though he did make changes in the Senate version of the bill in response to public comment.

Dayton has been out front on the issue of buffers, and some have criticized him for the way he introduced the topic.

In politics, an issue is simplified in order to draw attention to it, he said. People may not have thought of the buffer issue before Dayton introduced it.

The governor has taken several steps to clarify a number of things and address the concerns farmers raised, Marty said. He is also working with agency folks to address their concerns.


Even with strong feelings on both sides the debates have been civil, he said.

"I've very hopeful that something good can come out of this," Marty said.

Send your buffer suggestions to Gov. Mark Dayton, Rep. Paul Torkelson or Sen. John Marty.

-- Find information on contacting Dayton at

-- Call Rep. Paul Torkelson at 651-296-9303 or 888-727-3891, or email him at His mailing address is 381 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55155.

-- Write to Sen. John Marty at 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Capitol, Room 323, St. Paul, MN 55155-1606. You also can call him at 651-296-5645.


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