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Dayton, legislative leaders to meet about proposed special session

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Gov. Mark Dayton and the top four DFL and GOP legislative leaders will meet Friday in an effort to agree on a special session next month to pass state disaster aid for June storm damage sufferers and the possible repeal of tax on farm equipment, the Pioneer Press reports.

Dayton said Wednesday that the proposed special one-day session -- which would start Sept. 9 -- would only focus on those two items, otherwise he would call the session off.

The hard line stance by the governor stems from several Republican leaders’ call for a repeal of other new taxes be added to the agenda, including a controversial warehousing tax.

Dayton, however says he wants to concentrate on getting relief to people in 18 counties that suffered wind and flood damage in June.

The governor says he will call the special session only if all four legislative leaders agree to it. While Dayton can call a special session, only the state's lawmakers can adjourn it.

In a statement, Senate minority leader David Hann (R- Eden Prairie) has asked Dayton to work out a bipartisan, compromise agenda.

"Republicans believe providing funding for disaster relief is priority number one, and then we should undo two of Gov. Dayton's damaging tax increases -- sales tax on warehousing and on equipment repairs -- to prevent hardworking taxpayers from paying more," Hann said.

According to Pioneer Press, Dayton supports getting rid of the warehousing tax, but the item can wait until the 2014 legislative session because the tax doesn't take effect until April 1. Until that time, the governor is hoping an improved state economy will replace the estimated $82 million the tax is expected to raise in 2014.

Dayton said Wednesday that the farm equipment tax deserves consideration in the special session because it was inserted into the tax bill on the last day of regular session in May because of a "drafting error" -- and that no one intended to increase taxes on farmers.

The estimated $29 million that would be raised over the next two years by the farm equipment tax could be replaced by a state budget surplus, he added.

The main agenda item in the special session will be for aid to deal with the damage 18 southern and central Minnesota counties sustained due to severe storms in June. Dayton is hoping to allocate $4.5 million to match a federal disaster grant of $17.8 million.

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