Sales tax train full One of the biggest problems facing a bill to raise Minnesota sales tax is how many programs would get a piece of the new revenue pie. The proposal started a decade ago to increase money spent on hunting and fishing programs. ...
Sales tax train full
One of the biggest problems facing a bill to raise Minnesota sales tax is how many programs would get a piece of the new revenue pie.
The proposal started a decade ago to increase money spent on hunting and fishing programs. A Senate committee last week gave its approval to bill that also funds forest, parks, trails, clean water and arts programs. Bill sponsor Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said that is enough.
"This simply cannot be a bill where every interest group says, 'The train is at the station, we ought to be on it,'" Pogemiller said.
Some on the committee had a hard time accepting the arts - such as theater groups and public broadcasting - as reaching the level of outdoors programs.
"People, land and water are all connected," Pogemiller responded.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's top rural economic development program got a voice of support from an unexpected corner - frequent Pawlenty antagonist Sen. Keith Langseth.
The Glyndon Democrat was listening to criticism of Pawlenty's Job Opportunity Building Zones program, which gives tax breaks to new and expanding rural businesses - when he had to speak up.
"JOBZ is more important for communities along the border," he said, indicating tax breaks help border communities compete with other states.
Langseth said Moorhead, for instance, attracted two implement dealers from Fargo in a large part thanks to JOBZ.
"The benefit to the state is we get a business we otherwise wouldn't have," he added.
Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, forgot something in a Minnesota House committee meeting last week, but had an excuse.
"It's that Iron Range Alzheimer's - forget everything except the grudges," he said.
If legislative negotiations stall at the Capitol later this spring, lawmakers may want to consider taking their disagreements to a bowling alley.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty invited a select group of lawmakers to go bowling Thursday afternoon in St. Paul as a way to socialize away from the often contentious Capitol confines.
The GOP governor, a big bowling fan, topped the four legislative caucus leaders in their first game, posting a 118. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller reportedly came in second with a 99.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark said it was a good opportunity for lawmakers and the governor to "talk shop" and to get to know each other better.
"I think we made a good start with that yesterday," Clark said Friday, admitting to having bowled a score "in the 90s."
"Actually, it was good," House Minority Leader Marty Seifert agreed of the unusual event. He posted an 82.
Sen. Joe Gimse, a freshman Republican from Willmar, stood out from the pack with a 178, Clark said.
Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller these days may be wondering about his power.
When the Minneapolis Democrat was chairman of an education committee, he liked to have the panel rank the importance of various initiatives so when the committee eventually put together a funding bill, it was easier to decide what got state money. He likes the idea so much that he followed the practice when he was Taxes Committee chairman last year and now as the Senate leader encourages all committee chairmen to do the same.
But when Sen. Debbie Johnson, R-Ham Lake, asked if that is how new Taxes Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, plans to handle things, he big northeastern Minnesota paused. No, he said, he planned to hear all bills and eventually put together a tax bill that would be open to committee debate.
Pogemiller piped up: "That shows how much influence I have."
State Capitol Bureau reporter Scott Wente contributed to this report.