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Dayton Says He’ll Call Special Session…But Only For Storm Relief

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Mark Dayton says he’ll call a special legislative session after Labor Day to help Minnesotans cope with severe storm damage in June.

But he won’t call lawmakers back to the Capitol unless they agree not to vote on any other issue — including a controversial new warehouse tax.

“If we can get that kind of agreement, we will have a special session,” said Dayton, a first term Democrat. “But if we can’t get people to stop playing politics, it will be questionable.”

So far, not everyone is listening.

Some lawmakers say a September special session is the perfect time to repeal the warehouse tax.

“Part of being governor is being a leader,” said State Sen. Dave Thompson, a Republican candidate for governor.

Thompson agrees that disaster relief for 18 Minnesota counties is a top priority, but he says the warehouse tax is a business disaster.

“If we are going to be in St. Paul anyway, we can repeal this?” he said. “If we can give our business community and their customers some assurances, I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that.”

The warehouse tax, which imposes a new 6.5 percent sales tax on the amount warehouses charge for storage, raises $100 million in the next two years.

It has angered some big warehouse owners, who have threatened to move out of state rather than pay it.

Even Dayton, who signed it into law, says it’s a bad idea.

“I will advocate strongly for its repeal immediately when the Legislature reconvenes in February,” Dayton said. “And I regret that it was included in this package.”

Thompson says there’s wide support among Republicans — and many Democrats — to repeal it.

So he’ll introduce a special session bill to repeal it now.

“I don’t know why we couldn’t agree on the things that we all support, which is the disaster relief and eliminating the warehouse tax so that Minnesota business can get on with their business and plan for 2014.”

President Obama declared 18 Minnesota counties disaster areas after those widespread storms between June 20 and 26.

Those storms caused tremendous damage, record rainfall and floods, and the largest power outage in Minnesota history.

Minnesota has to come up with $4.5 million in matching funds for the federal disaster aid.

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