ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s “surprised and disturbed” by a proposal for adding new enforcement teeth to one of his signature environmental initiatives, a state law requiring farmers to plant buffer strips between fields and waterways to trap pollutants.

Dayton says in a letter to the Board of Water and Soil Resources the proposed fines are unreasonable, and came as a shock to him and Minnesota farmers. The Democratic governor is urging the board to reconsider the draft proposal, which also has drawn sharp criticisms from key Republican lawmakers who accuse his administration of overreach.

The proposal would allow local governments to impose higher fines than current regulations allow on landowners who don’t comply with requirements.

Compliance is at 98 percent already. Dayton says penalties should be a last resort.

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