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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published March 02 2013

Minnesota Political Notebook: $30M appears headed to help businesses grow

ST. PAUL - Legislative leaders say the governor has a good chance of getting $30 million he wants included in the next two-year budget to help businesses move to Minnesota or expand.

The Minnesota Investment Fund has provided more than 600 loans, some of which do not need to be repaid, since 1985. Rural businesses received

$85 million while those in the Twin Cities were given $24 million.

“It’s a major priority,” said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, who leads a key economic development committee.

Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Department said many other states provide financial incentives for expanding and relocating businesses, but Minnesota has only had $7 million available for 53 businesses since 2005. Some states spend several times that amount every year.

Tomassoni said it is tough to compete against the $200 million Texas can use as bait and $50 million that Michigan has available.

Sieben said the $30 million her boss, Gov. Mark Dayton, wants would help businesses create 7,000 to 10,000 jobs.

Gun bill chances

Gun control supporters could fire a blank in their attempt to require all buyers of handguns and semi-automatic weapons to undergo background checks.

“It’s going to be tough to get the votes to pass that,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

Many rural Democrats are expected to join Republicans in opposing the gun legislation.

While Bakk said he can see requiring people to undergo background checks when they make gun show purchases, he questioned requiring private sales to do the same.

Bakk, who has said his gun cabinet is full, said he did not know how he would vote.

Look to tax ‘Plan C’

Most businesses do not like Dayton’s proposal to expand the sales tax to goods and services businesses buy and sell.

Most fellow Democrats have refused to embrace the plan and long lines of business representatives have lined up to testify in front of tax committees against the Dayton plan.

“I’m waiting to see how this shakes out,” Tomassoni said.

Tomassoni and other Democratic-Farmer-Laborite leaders say Dayton is willing to make changes in his tax proposal.

“He is open to Plan C,” Tomassoni said.

So far, Democrats have brought up no options to replace Dayton proposals that attracted the most criticism.

A spirited exchange

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, predicts a spirited exchange Monday when representatives debate whether to establish a health care exchange.

The exchange is on a fast track to give state officials time to set up the mostly online health insurance sales operation.

Either the state will establish the exchange or federal officials say they will do it to meet new federal health care law requirements.

Murphy said representatives have heard 43 hours of testimony and considered 63 amendments as the bill was considered by nine committees in the first two months of the legislative session.

The bill’s Senate version also had made its way through nine committees. Senators expect to debate the bill Thursday.

Seifert apologizes

Minnesota Public Radio recently reported that former GOP House leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, admitted he made a mistake in 2008 in disciplining six Republicans who voted to overturn a governor’s veto of a gasoline tax increase.

Rep. Ron Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, recalled to Forum News Service the day last year when Seifert called to apologize.

The idea to apologize, Seifert said, came when a student in a class he was teaching asked his biggest regret.

When he replied that it was the post-override vote action, a student suggested that he call and apologize.

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Don Davis writes for Forum News Service