Dayton says special session will stick to disaster relief

Gov. Mark Dayton said today that he will not call a special session to provide disaster relief for 18 counties that suffered wind and flood damage in June unless Republican leaders agree to a preset agenda that limits the session to disaster relief and repealing a newly enacted tax on farm equipment repairs.

Several Republican leaders have called for a repeal of other new taxes, among them a tax on warehouse services.

Dayton said he aims to call a special session for Sept. 9, but does not want to add the GOP effort to repeal taxes to its agenda.

“It’s a question of just really abusing the purpose of a special session,” the governor said of Republican efforts to target taxes. Instead, he said, the session [should] “focus on getting people in southeastern Minnesota the disaster assistance that they need.”

Dayton said legislators should follow the same criteria that they relied upon when he called a special session to repair flood damage in northeastern Minnesota in 2012.

“I sent them an e-mail today along with a draft agreement, which just exactly follows the one last year that the Republican leaders and DFL leaders signed off on with the addition of one or two sentences on the agriculture repeal,” Dayton said. “If they sign it, we’ll have a special session. If they don’t we won’t.”

Republican legislators have criticized Dayton and Democrats in control of the Legislature for passing several taxes that they say would harm the state’s business climate.

Dayton said he would consider repealing the newly enacted tax on warehouse services and other business-to-business taxes but he wants a specific plan on how to replace the $334 million in tax revenues they create.