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Letter: McNamara is choosing mining companies before cabin owners

To the editor,

Rep. Denny McNamara is showing where his loyalties lie when it comes to choosing between mining companies and Minnesota cabin owners.

Rep. McNamara has refused to give House bill HF 2477 -- a landowner's rights bill to take eminent domain away from mining companies -- a hearing in his House Committee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources. Already, Rep. McNamara has led passage of a bill to eliminate Executive Council review of mineral leases, thereby removing the opportunity for the public to testify and comment on pending mineral leases. Rep. McNamara seems intent on locking cabin owners and the general public out of the process of mineral leases underneath private property.

HF 2477 is a bipartisan bill introduced in the Minnesota House by Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood) and co-authored Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), with six other co-authors, to strip the power of eminent domain from mining companies in the non-ferrous mining state statute. HF 2477 addresses a scary prospect for home and cabin owners in northeastern Minnesota--that a mining company could seize a person's land by eminent domain, leaving them with no rights as a private property owner (that statute says that the mining company must offer financial compensation, and if compensation can't be mutually agreed upon, the mining company can institute condemnation).

This is not an anti-mining bill. HF 2477 would not threaten one single job at Polymet, not one job planned for mining projects already under development. It's a private property rights bill -- very much along the lines of a bill passed in Minnesota in 2006 (which Rep. McNamara voted for) that stated eminent domain could not be enacted for the purpose of economic development, and modeled after a bipartisan bill passed and signed by a Republican Governor in Nevada that similarly stripped mining companies of eminent domain.

And with the DNR holding the mineral rights to more than 13 million acres in Minnesota (that's about one-fourth of the state), thousands of cabin owners may soon find themselves vulnerable to eminent domain seizure by mining companies.

We believe that the majority of Minnesotans agree with us that home owners and cabin owners are not just another form of overburden to be summarily cleared out of the way by mining companies; that we have equal rights as Minnesota citizens and taxpayers; and that it is totally inappropriate to grant mining companies the power of eminent domain when government itself is restricted from using it for economic development.

However, the question is whether the mining companies control the Minnesota Legislature. So far -- having removed public comment from the mineral lease process and snuffed out a hearing for a private property rights bill in the House natural resources committee -- it appears the mining companies are calling the shots.

Ron Brodigan, Dan Humay, Steve Brodigan and Gus Axelson

Home and cabin owners