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Danielle Nordine and Don Davis, Published May 04 2012

Minnesota legislative notebook: Tempers flare as session clock ticks on remaining items

ST. PAUL – Republicans say Gov. Mark Dayton’s Friday veto of their tax-relief bill threatens cooperation in the few remaining days of the Minnesota legislative session.

“You do not move Minnesota forward with a red veto pen,” Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said, waving a red-capped Sharpie. “This is a slap in the face to Minnesotans.”

He said he believed the tax plan likely was the best jobs bill of the session.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said Dayton did not inform Republicans involved in crafting the bill that he would veto it. She said she learned via Twitter that he had rejected the plan.

Dayton’s office received the tax bill Thursday night after the House and Senate passed it this week. He said he vetoed it quickly because he “wanted to get it out of the way so it could not be used as a negotiation tactic” for a Vikings stadium or public works borrowing bill.

Among its provisions, the vetoed bill would have provided tax cuts, mainly for businesses.

Dayton said any new spending or tax reductions had to avoid increasing future state deficits, but the plan he vetoed would use the budget reserves to pay for a business property tax freeze and other tax breaks.

The Democratic governor said his office responded to the Republican-written tax plan with a counterproposal but did not get a response before the House and Senate voted.

Ortman said the governor’s veto was irresponsible and said the bill was high-quality and bipartisan.

“I share Sen. Ortman’s disappointment, especially when it comes to small businesses,” House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said. “This was a reasonable tax bill.”

Dental labs bill signed

Dayton signed a bill requiring dental laboratories in Minnesota to register with the state.

The bill also requires companies that manufacture bridges, crowns, dentures and other dental pieces to disclose to dentists where they were made, in whole or part, and all materials that were used.

If there ever were a recall of products, the information would help protect dentists and patients, supporters said.

Lower assumptions

The state pension system would lower its expectations on investment returns under a bill passed by the House and Senate.

The provision, in a boarder pension-related bill, requires pension officials to assume pension funds would return 8 percent profits instead of the current 8.5 percent. Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the current number drives up expectations that may not be able to be fulfilled and at some point, the state may not be able to pay as much as beneficiaries were promised.

In the past 10 years, the return has been 5.9 percent.

“We put ourselves in a position of having made promises to our employees and to our retirees that we may not be able to keep,” Lanning said.

Danielle Nordine and Don Davis report for Forum Communications Co.

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