Dayton, lawmakers set Sept. 9 special session
ST. PAUL (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders agreed Wednesday to a one-day special session Sept. 9 to approve relief for areas hit hard by storms in June.
The session will be limited to storm relief despite some bipartisan support to repeal a recently enacted sales tax on farm equipment repairs. Minority Republicans also wanted discussion of repealing other new taxes approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature last spring.
But House Speaker Paul Thissen, a Minneapolis Democrat, said the two sides couldn't reach agreement on tax changes and agreed to focus on storm damage.
“We'll do what we've done in the past, which is make sure our first and top priority is getting relief to the folks who really need it across the state of Minnesota,” Thissen said.
President Barack Obama recently signed a federal declaration for 18 counties hit hard by storms, high winds and flooding in late June, paving the way for federal aid. But that money must be matched by $4.5 million from the state. The money will help pay for repairs to damaged public infrastructure.
Waves of heavy storms over several days in June downed trees, caused flooding and knocked out power to more than a half-million customers across a wide swath of the state.
The counties covered by the declaration are Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin. The storms occurred between June 20 and 26.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the pressure to repeal the other taxes won't subside and will be front and center when legislators return for the 2014 session in February. Aside from the farm tax, Republicans have called for the elimination of new taxes on warehousing services and telecommunications equipment.
The heads of the two parties and the governor signed a written agreement not to take up other bills. But that won't stop members from introducing them to make a point.