Special Session Deals With Storm Relief
Special Session Provides Storm Relief, Skips Warehousing Tax And Minimum Wage
Legislators met in St. Paul yesterday for a "special session" called by Governor Mark Dayton to address storm relief for parts of Minnesota. After a few hours of procedural work, Legislators passed a $4.5 million storm relief package designed to facilitate Minnesota's acceptance of federal disaster funds.
Although prior to the special session there were discussions indicating a possible repeal of several business to business taxes enacted in the final hours of the 2013 legislative session, legislative leaders stayed focused on appropriating funds to leverage federal disaster dollars. Several business groups, including the Minnesota Retailers Association, had hoped for a repeal of a controversial business storage and warehouse tax that kicks in April, 2014.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk ended the possibility of expanding the special session to issues beyond storm relief by calling such a move irresponsible, stating it would lead to an unbalanced state budget in the short term. Bakk added that until the State's November budget forecast is out there is no guarantee repealed taxes could be replaced with surplus revenues.
Also not addressed in special session was a left over issue from the 2013 session--a proposed increase of Minnesota's minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015. Efforts to "Raise the Wage" were prominent at the Minnesota State Fair, with a survey of 7,000 fair-goers conducted by the Minnesota House of Representatives showing 61 percent in favor of a $9.50 minimum wage.
DFL leadership in the Senate indicated during the special session that at the top of the priorities list for the 2014 Legislative session are passing a minimum wage increase and a bonding bill. The next regular session of the Minnesota Legislature kicks off February 25.