I would like to start out by giving everybody an update on a few items that have taken place down in St. Paul. As I’m sure you are all aware, COVID-19 has remained a large priority at the Capital. With that said, IAM has remained active throughout by continuing to have communications with key legislators and representatives from the DNR. Being an election year and COVID-19 restrictions, ways of communication have been a little different, but our lobbyists have continued to work hard preparing for the 2021 legislative session.
Unfortunately Representative Jean Poppe, the lead author of our bill in the House, did not win reelection. So since Election Day, a priority has been to come up with a couple different options for who IAM can look to carry our bill through the House and Senate. Before coming up with a final game plan, we needed to see the makeup of the different committees within each chamber. On December 30th, the Senate assignments were announced and on January 2nd, the House made their announcement. As I write this, I can say Senator Howe has once again agreed to be the lead author in the Senate. On the House side, our lobbyists have been and will be meeting with multiple members and by the time you receive this newsletter we should have an author in the House that will carry our bill. If you are interested in who the lead author is, please don’t hesitate to call myself or another board member or you can look on the House of Representatives website as well.
Next thing I want to touch on is that I’m guessing some of you received an email from DNR earlier this summer regarding a new water conservation report that irrigators could take part in. At that time, the understanding was that this was a voluntary report and if we wanted to take part in it we could. Then in the fall DNR sent out another email and the language seemed to switch. This report was no longer voluntary, but will be required. This raised some concern among the board and we felt we needed to dig a little deeper into this. Our lobbyists were able to get in touch with a few individuals at DNR and it was determined that there was somewhat of a misunderstanding and the report is not required but something we as irrigators can do if we choose so.
I bring this up as an example of just how important it is for IAM to have a set of eyes and ears watching over our interests as irrigators and that sometimes playing defense can be just as important as playing offense. Again in 2021, IAM will be requesting a $.25/acre donation that will be used strictly for legislative funds. I would like to thank everybody who donated in 2020 and I encourage everybody to give this again in 2021. A mailing will be sent out in January to all members with information in regard to the donation, so please keep an eye out for that.
In the last newsletter, I mentioned that IAM was looking to start a scholarship in memory of Alan Peterson. The board met in December via zoom and we were able to work out some of the details for the scholarship. We feel this will be a great way to honor Alan’s legacy for many years to come. I want to thank Alan’s wife, Laurie and sons, Ryan and Nick for wanting to work with IAM to promote the scholarship. I also want to thank everybody who has donated to the scholarship fund already and if you are interested in making a donation more details can be found in the newsletter.
Lastly, at our last meeting, the board made the decision that IAM’s Annual Meeting will not be held in person this year. We do plan on organizing an event that you can participate in via Zoom. As of right now , we plan on having an annual business meeting along with an update from our lobbyist’s. You can find more details in the newsletter and I encourage you to attend if your schedule allows.
With that, I just want to say thank you for your support of IAM. As always, if any questions come up, please don’t hesitate to reach out.