Minnesota government notebook: Conservative group ads to attack higher taxes
By Don Davis /Forum News Service
ST. PAUL -- A conservative group plans an advertising campaign to remind Minnesotans that Democrats raised taxes more than $2 billion.
Minnesota Majority also launched a website (www.amirich.org) in an attempt to show that the tax changes enacted by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton affect everyone.
“It looks like a classic bait and switch,” Minnesota Majority President Dan McGrath said. “Voters were sold one thing but received something else, with a bigger bill.”
Dayton said 98 percent of Minnesota taxpayers would not be affected by new taxes. The biggest tax hike is to income taxes paid by the top 2 percent of the state’s earners, but other taxes will affect lower-paid Minnesotans.
A tax paid by some businesses that use warehouses is an example, McGrath said. Businesses will forward that tax to their customers, he added, if it begins next April as planned.
Craft runs for Congress
Thomas Craft plans to announce Saturday that he is running for the U.S. House seat held by John Kline.
Craft, an Eagan Democrat, said there is too much partisanship in Washington.
“Too many politicians are putting political interest ahead of the interests of the country,” he said. “If elected officials were interested in compromise and negotiating in good will instead of trying to score political points, our country would be in much better shape than it is today.”
Craft, 30, grew up on a farm near Staples and spent a year in China after graduating from college.
Veteran Republican Congressman Kline is chairman of the committee in charge of education and labor issues.
Checking on damage
Federal, state and local officials are examining damage through Thursday from last month’s storms.
They will examine damage to public and some nonprofit facilities that occurred during June 20-26 storms and flooding.
Most affected counties are in southern and western Minnesota.
The assessment is the first step in determining whether Gov. Mark Dayton will seek a presidential disaster declaration. If a federal disaster is declared, state and local governments and some nonprofit groups could receive federal aid to cover repair and cleanup costs.
Dayton says he is ‘fine’
Gov. Mark Dayton is back on the job this week after a couple of weeks’ recovery from a fall and resulting hip injury.
“My physical condition is fine,” he told reporters. “My physical conditioning needs improvement.”
Dayton said his exercise has been curtailed since his fall. For the past two weeks, “I haven’t been moving around much.”
He also revealed that he recently lost 15 pounds. He blamed the loss on “a bug” he picked up on a European trade mission, which he ended just before his fall.
Anti-mine group travels
An organization that questions the safety of a new form of northeast Minnesota mining is hitting the road this summer to encourage getting answers to their questions.
A coalition of conservation groups that calls itself Mining Truth wants answers to four questions before nickel and copper mining is allowed:
• Will Minnesota’s water stay safe and clean?
• Are there safeguards in place for when things go wrong?
• Will the company leave the site clean and maintenance-free?
• Will Minnesota’s taxpayers be protected?
Coalition members plan to encourage Minnesotans to sign an online petition demanding that Gov. Mark Dayton and companies planning the mines, Polymet and Twin Metals, answer the questions.
Also, what the coalition calls “a substantial” advertising campaign will launch.
“Minnesotans from all parts of the state need to understand what is at stake with these sulfide mines,” Executive Director Paul Austin of Conservation Minnesota said.
Yellow pipe a danger
Minnesota officials warn that corrugated stainless-steel tubing, usually covered with yellow plastic, that carries gas can be a fire hazard.
The fire marshal reports that if the pipe is not properly installed, it can be damaged by nearby lightning, causing a fire.
“This tubing is in Minnesota homes, but the problem can be solved,” State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said. “This is an electrical issue that can be fixed by a qualified and licensed professional.”
The pipe may be in homes built after 1989. It typically is beneath, through or alongside floor joists in the basement, inside interior walls and on top of ceiling joists in attics.
Five die around holiday
Five people died in Minnesota traffic accidents during the Independence Day weekend.
In the five previous years combined, 29 fatalities were reported during the holiday, usually among the deadliest time on Minnesota roads. Of those deaths, 19 were drunken driving related.
The Public Safety Department reports that this year, three deaths were motorcyclists killed in two crashes Thursday, one person was killed in a Clay County rollover crash Saturday and a bicyclist was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Minneapolis on July 3.
The Office of Traffic Safety reports 560 drunken driving arrests statewide the night of July 3 through Sunday.
Dayton wants specifics
Gov. Mark Dayton said Republicans are “grandstanding” in a call for a special legislative session to kill a planned tax on businesses that store goods in warehouses.
However, he said, if GOP members like Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing who want a special session give him a specific request, there would be something to consider. Kelly and others have asked for the special session but have not given Dayton a bill.
The Republicans say businesses are being forced to postpone expansion decisions, and maybe use warehouses in other states, because they do not know if the warehousing tax will kick in next April as planned. Democratic legislative leaders have said they may reconsider the tax when they return to St. Paul on Feb. 25.
Dayton said the worst part of a tax bill he and legislative Democrats passed in May is a sales tax on farm equipment repair: “the No. 1 priority to get rid of.”