Ditch mowing legislation advances

ST. PAUL — Legislation prohibiting the Minnesota Department of Transportation from enforcing permitting requirements for mowing and baling along state highway rights of way was approved by the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee Monday.

The legislation prohibits MnDOT from requiring, issuing, or enforcing permits until April 30, 2020. The legislation is now waiting for a vote by the full Senate, according to Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls. He is the bill’s author.

“MnDOT’s permitting requirement disrupts farmers and landowners who have been mowing and baling along state highway rights of way for decades,” Dahms said. “This bill continues the moratorium on MnDOT’s enforcing of the permitting requirements so farmers and landowners, legislators, and the new governor’s administration can come together and find a permanent, bipartisan solution.”

Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, has also introduced legislation in the House. He is still waiting for hearing to be held on the bill, according to his office.

The Legislature passed similar moratoriums in 2017 and 2018 in response to a policy shift from MnDOT, which began enforcing permitting requirements for mowing and baling along state highway rights of way, prompting significant criticism from rural Minnesotans. Among other things, the agency’s policy requires farmers and landowners to apply for a state-issued permit before mowing and baling along highway rights of way.

“We have the opportunity to do the right thing in getting folks together to work this out,” Dahms said.

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