Special session Sept. 9: Disaster relief only item on agenda

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State legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton have agreed to a one-day special session Sept. 9, with one item on the agenda: providing disaster relief money to 18 counties hit by early-summer storms.

Dayton had wanted to throw one more item in the mix – the repeal of a tax that farmers pay when they get equipment repaired. Republican leaders wanted to expand the scope of the session even more, with votes to repeal new taxes on warehousing and other business-to-business taxes. The DFLers said the broader tax repeals would blow a hole in the state's two-year budget the Legislature just finalized in May.

The parties met Wednesday morning and they agreed to narrow the focus of the session just to disaster relief.

"We've had the discussion about these taxes, and I think those discussions will go on. But right now we want to focus on delivering disaster relief for the people of Minnesota," DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen said, FOX 9 reported.

Storms that battered the state in June caused $17.8 million in public property damages in 18 Minnesota counties: Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster relief declaration that frees up federal funding to help pay public infrastructure repair costs up to 75 percent.

But to get the federal money, state lawmakers in the special session would have to commit to paying 25 percent of the repair costs.

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