Wrapping Up Week #1. The week came to a quiet end, as most legislators took the opportunity to duck out of town after Thursday's proceedings. That is probably the last time they are going to get to do that, as the schedule is going to ramp up next week. The first committee deadline is a mere month away, meaning some committees will have only eight meetings before then.
The week ended with an interesting meeting in the House Property Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Division, where the Office of the Legislative Auditor discussed their recently-released study: "Green Acres" and Agricultural Land Preservation Programs. Jody Hauer of the Office of the Legislative Auditor (Pictured at left, and no, the meeting wasn't held in a cave. That's just my subpar photography skills at play.) provided a very complete description of the "Green Acres" program, the property tax relief it provides to farmland owners, and its effectiveness in preserving agricultural lands. As it turns out, the program does provide significant property tax relief that is of great assistance to farmers who want to continue to farm as suburban develop creeps ever closer to their property. However, the program does not appear to have a significant effect on the preservation of farmland. Continuing development and its effect on agricultural property is an issue for a number of Schools for Equity in Education members, so I would urge those of you who are interested to download a copy of this report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor's website. I have provided you with a link to that site along with a link to a StarTribune article regarding the release of this report.
"Green Acres" report: http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/ped/2008/greenacres.htm
Star Tribune article: http://www.startribune.com/local/south/15468116.html
The expected clash between the Governor in the Legislature should occur soon, as it is likely that the omnibus transportation bill prepared by the Legislature will be on the Governor's desk no later than the week after next. Given the Governor's "red pen" comments during his State of the State Address, the Legislature's transportation package is heading toward near-certain veto (with near certain meaning about 99.999999999999.....%). So stay tuned. I hope to keep you up-to-date through the blog and other means.
Until then, have a great weekend!