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GOP leader wants open tax change hearings

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House Republican leader says he wants to make sure that overturning a tax on farm implement repair is done in the open, unlike when lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton approved the tax in May.

Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said on Monday that during or before a special legislative session next month that tax committees should hold public hearings on the plan to take the tax off the books.

Daudt said the tax was slipped in without any House hearings last May.

"He didn't know what was in the bill," Daudt said about Dayton, who last week said the tax should not have been passed. "If it is a mistake, let's fix it in the light of day."

The governor said at Farmfest last week that he thought the farm implement repair tax should be reversed in the special session and money farmers already have paid should be returned.

Daudt said a tax on goods stored in warehouses also should be overturned in a special session tentatively planned for Sept. 9. The session is being called to appropriate money to help communities affected by June storms and floods.

Dayton agreed that the warehouse tax should be eliminated, but at Farmfest he said that tax change can wait until the Legislature returns to its regular session on Feb. 25. The tax does not begin until April.

Dayton says all four legislative leaders, both Democrat and Republican, must agree on a special session agenda before he will call one. But Daudt said that he has heard nothing from the governor.

"They haven't reached out to me," Daudt said.

Dayton spokesman Matt Swenson disputed that. He said Dayton's office has been in regular contact with all four legislative leaders' offices about the session for weeks.

Daudt, however, said the governor's office has not sought input in the four emails they sent to the House Republican staff. A meeting of the governor's staff and legislative leaders' staff members is planned for this week.

"I feel like the four leaders and the governor should sit down and talk about it," Daudt said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.