Lileks: From soil to fridge, state has us covered

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 4:07 PM

Lester dirt is now the official state soil, according to our new Omnibus Agriculture Bill. I've actually read it. The deft prose, the lyrical turn of phrase -- why, it's almost like a Broadway show tune lyric. Let's all sing along:

"18J.01 DEFINITIONS.(a) The definitions in sections 18G.02, 18H.02, 27.01, 223.16, 231.01, and 232.21 apply to this chapter. (b) For purposes of this chapter, "associated rules" means rules adopted under this chapter, chapter 18G, 18H, 27, 223, 231, or 232, or sections 21.80 to 21.92."

That clarifies things, doesn't it? Here you've been walking around wondering whether "associated rules" referred to section 18G.02 or 18G.01. Now all doubt is removed. The path is clear.

That's why agriculture in this state had such a rocky start: Homesteaders broke up the prairie with oxen and plows, then stood around scratching their heads, wondering whether subsection B of chapter 3, part 3.14, meant they should plant barley, or scatter nuts and bolts and hope tractors grew from the earth. Help! Some laws, please!

My favorite: "The commissioner, upon presentation of official department credentials, must be granted immediate access at reasonable times to sites where a person manufactures, distributes, uses, handles, disposes of, stores, or transports seeds, plants, grain, household goods, general merchandise, produce, or other living or nonliving products or other objects regulated under chapter 18G, 18H, 27, 223, 231, or 232; sections 21.80 to 21.92; or associated rules."

General merchandise, living or non? Well, that narrows it down. So I buy some lettuce. I will use it and handle it, store it, then dispose of it. The commish can show up, flash a badge and say he's from the department of Dead Salad Components Regulation, help himself to a Coke from the fridge and say "have a nice day."

Of course, he won't. But it strikes you as something they write just in case they need it.

The bill also included a designation of "Lester" as the state soil. One line, just to show they could do it if they wanted to.

Did they read it before they voted on it? Will the governor read it? We know this: Bills are written so they're understood only by the people paid to enforce them. At least there's a glimmer of hope; the bill, having piled up a mountain of new statutes, repeals several old ones.

That must have been like pulling teeth, which, of course, is covered by a different bill entirely.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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