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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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News from Representative Erickson 08-14-2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Special session opportunity to fix mistakes

As you may have heard, the legislature is tentatively scheduled to have a special session on September 9, 2013. The Governor scheduled the special session so the legislature can pass much-needed disaster-relief funding from the storms that impacted many parts of the state earlier this summer.

There has also been bipartisan agreement that the legislature should look to repeal the sales tax on farm equipment repairs that went into effect July 1. Repealing this tax has been a priority for Republicans for some time now, and I'm glad that the Governor and legislative Democrats have come around to the realization that these taxes do indeed have consequences for Minnesotans.

At FarmFest last week, Governor Dayton called the equipment repair tax "bad policy." I couldn't agree more. This is exactly the kind of thing that happens when omnibus bills are thrown together in the waning hours of session as leaders huddle and decide major policy behind closed doors. Try as they may, many legislators just simply don't have the time to review hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages of legislation before voting on proposals.

Case in point is the K-12 education bill. Policy after policy allows the Department of Education to take control of our local school districts if they do not "march to the demands" set down by the department in testing, results of diversity programs, preparing students for the 21st Century or school climate. But those policies will need major debate so will have to wait until regular session in 2014.

For now, the legislature has to concentrate on new laws such as the farm equipment repair tax, a proposal that was never heard in committee in the House, hardly an open and transparent way of doing business.

We shouldn't stop there, however. Democrats have indicated they want to limit repeal to farm equipment and farm equipment only -- providing an exemption for farmers rather than repealing the tax altogether.

Democrats have already acknowledged that this tax is bad for farmers, and bad for the agriculture industry. Thus it would stand to reason that it is also bad for the logging industry, the restaurant industry, the mining industry, and all other industries that would be impacted by this misguided tax proposal. It's clear that the entire tax must go.

The same is true for the warehousing tax. Legislators on both sides of the aisle have been openly discussing its potential repeal since it was passed back in May. Special session provides a perfect opportunity to right these wrongs and undo the burdensome taxes Democrats inflicted on Minnesota businesses and families.

I will keep you updated as the special session approaches on any developments and urge you to contact your elected officials and legislative leaders to urge them to join Republicans in supporting the full repeal of these harmful taxes.