WOW, what a long strange trip this has been.  I’ve been on this since Chisago I (1996) and Arrowhead:

Arrowhead Appellate Decision

Arrowhead was exempted, and hence Buy the Farm doesn’t apply, so that went to the Appellate Court, which tossed it out.  And the 2001 statutory changes, which defined “high voltage transmission lines” as anything over 100 kV, meaning Buy the Farm would apply to 115 kV lines like SE Metro, and Chisago, but nooooo, can’t have that, so Sen. Metzen then amended in 2002 so that it only applies to lines 200 kV or over.  GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Here’s the update in the Belle Plaine Herald (why is there nothing whatsoever in the STrib?).  GRE’s Randy Fordice claims it’s vaguely worded, but I think it’s pretty specific:

All rights and protections provided to an owner under chapter 117 apply to acquisition of land or an interest in land under this section.

DOH!  Vague my ass…

Legislature OKs Amendment to ‘Buy the Farm’ Law

In the waning hours of the 2013 legislative session Monday night, state lawmakers approved an amendment to Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law.

The amendment was passed “with great bipartisan support,” 114-18, said Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield. It requires companies like CapX 2020, which is running a transmission line from Sioux Falls, S.D. across Minnesota to reimburse landowners and farmers for fees incurred in the process of acquiring land via eminent domain for losses incurred during the process.

Additionally, the new law says utilities acquiring land via eminent domain must file challenges to a landowners request the utility buys the farm within 60 days.

If an objection is raised by the utility, the district court must uphold or reject the claim within 90 days.

Dahle and Rep. David Bly, DFL-Northfield, Reps. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, and Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, supported the amendment. Woodard and Dahle represent Belle Plaine.

Woodard noted the original law passed in 1977 has “lost some of its teeth” over the years. He hopes it will help businesses impacted by utility proposals.

“We’ll see if it helps people the way they want it to. I hope it does,” Woodard said.

Monday afternoon, Dahle said he believed the amendment would win passage in the House, but only if the House of Representatives finished its business dealing with budget, taxation and childcare unionization issues. Those meaty issues had to be addressed before the House would take up the amendment to the “Buy the Farm” law.

“The clock is the biggest challenge, not the votes,” Dahle said.

Dahle was able to win passage of the amendment by linking it to another utility-related bill, avoiding a committee hearing process by which most bills are vetted. He said the end run annoyed some lawmakers, but that it is a tactic periodically used to get a bill through the process on short order.

On the House side, Woodard said the amendment was originally included in the environment bill, but pulled out during conference committee. With efforts of Bly and Woodard lobbying their respective colleagues for support, passage was assured, Woodard said.

CapX is less than thrilled with the passage. Randy Fordice, a spokesman for the group of utilities working together on high-voltage power line projects across the state, including the line that runs south of Belle Plaine across Blakeley and Belle Plaine townships, said the vaguely-worded amendment muddies the issues associated with the so-called reasonableness clause included in “Buy the Farm” requests.

He added that the amendment could result in more questions associated with the ruling the Minnesota Supreme Court is considering. That case involves relocation costs and minimal compensation. A district court sided with a farmer affected by CapX’s Fargo-to-Monticello transmission line. The state appeals court sided with CapX, noting that landowners elected to move.

But the amendment includes language indicating it does not impact cases in the court system at the time of its passage, Dahle said.

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