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Warehousing Tax Is Rallying Point For Minn. GOP

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Two Republican legislators who want to be Minnesota’s next governor tried Thursday to one-up each other in calling to wipe out a new sales tax on warehousing services.

Sen. Dave Thompson and Rep. Kurt Zellers have latched onto the issue and are pressing Republican colleagues to stand firm about getting the tax repeal on a special session agenda that’s in the works. They’re among four declared Republican challengers to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, but as legislators, they have a platform rivals don’t to pursue the repeal.

The tax on businesses that rent warehousing space kicks in next April. Dayton has said he supports repealing it next year once a source for its revenue loss — expected to be $80 million to $95 million annually — is identified.

At a news conference, Thompson argued that the tax is leading some companies to rethink expanding in the state.

“The sooner we can get rid of this, the better,” Thompson said.

He told reporters that he was acting in capacity as an elected official.

“Obviously I’m running for governor, I’m not hiding that,” he said, “I’m not doing this because I am running for governor.”

Less than an hour before Thompson’s event, Zellers issued a news release insisting that the warehouse tax issue be included in a likely September special session, where the main topic will be to approve disaster assistance for communities rebuilding from severe summer storms.

The former House speaker also has urged people to sign an online petition connected to his campaign.

Dayton plans to meet Friday with legislative leaders about a special session agenda. For now, the warehousing tax is issue isn’t on it, despite the pressure from Thompson, Zellers and other GOP legislators.

“Where is that money coming from?” Dayton asked Thursday after touring the state’s main forensic lab. “Do they want to cut spending? Cut all-day kindergarten? Whack human services like they did in 2011? If they want to be taken seriously, they need to get into the nitty-gritty of legislating and say how they’d balance the books.”

Thompson gave a few examples, such as dumping a refund program that allows small-dollar political donors to recover up to $50 per person for campaign contributions. The Political Contribution Refund Program was revived this year after a four-year hiatus.

Thompson said he hasn’t decided whether to make use of the refund program in his gubernatorial bid. Zellers sent out a fundraising solicitation earlier in the week that highlighted the refund as a way to “contribute to our campaign for free.”

The two other GOP candidates in the 2014 field are Orono businessman Scott Honour and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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