1.) The House took another crack at election year tax relief Thursday night, as a bill that would boost property tax deductions for homeowners, renters and farmers advanced through the House Taxes Committee. The omnibus tax bill authored by Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, comes less than one week after a $440 million tax cut package was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. Lenczewski’s proposal contains property tax aids and credits totaling $24 million in one-time relief for owners and renters, while farmers would be eligible for $19 million in rebates. The bill would also incorporate joint powers agreements between local units of government into a sales tax exemption for local units of government that passed last year, though that measure would not go into effect until the 2016 fiscal year.
The bill was amended only slightly during Thursday’s proceedings, with Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, successfully bringing a plan that would allow bars and restaurants to continue selling liquor after falling into tax delinquency, provided the businesses have reached a payment agreement with the Department of Revenue. Thursday’s passage sends the bill on to the House Ways and Means Committee, its final stop before a full floor vote.
2.) The politics of the nearly one-year-old standoff between House and Senate conferees over the terms of a minimum-wage increase took on a new wrinkle Thursday, reports the Associated Press. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Tax Reform Division Chair Ann Rest have introduced a bill for a constitutional amendment to add an automatic inflation adjustment to the wage level. “The constitution is intended to protect the rights of the minority,” Bakk told AP. “These low-wage workers are a minority of Minnesotans. This gives them some protection that their wages would keep up with inflation.” The House’s lead conferee, Rep. Ryan Winkler, was quick to criticize the move: “The constitution is a place to structure how government works to protects rights. It is not a place to pass policy.” Around the Capitol, the amendment bill is widely viewed as a negotiating gambit, since House leadership has long made clear that it does not want to place any constitutional questions on the ballot in 2014.
3.) MPR Capitol reporter Tom Scheck has surveyed the Republican gubernatorial field regarding candidates’ stands on the medical marijuana issue that has loomed large in the 2014 legislative session. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and state Sen. Dave Thompson both indicated they were open to signing such a bill, though they took care to distance themselves from the DFL bill authored by Rep. Carly Melin that is currently before the Legislature. State Rep. Kurt Zellers, former Rep. Marty Seifert, and retired finance executive Scott Honour declared themselves opposed, with Honour striking a stance close to the one articulated by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. “When I speak with law enforcement and the medical community, I am guided by them,” said Honour. “They are focused on the issues at hand, and unless I heard strong advocacy from those groups for the use of medicinal marijuana I’m against it.”
COMINGS & GOINGS