Committees deep in action next week as first deadline looms

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Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement to eliminate taxes on business-to-business services from his budget proposal received support from party leaders on both sides.

At a Friday press availability, Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine) called the move, which came after strong opposition from the business community, “a bipartisan message.”

Woodard is hopeful that the governor’s revised budget proposal, that could be released next week, will also take other taxes, including a number of sales taxes, off the table.

“We agree that high taxes result in lower job opportunities for Minnesotans,” he said. “We appreciate the fact that the governor has listened to Minnesotans.”

House Speaker Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), who supports the elimination of the business-to-business services tax, said he’d still like to see resources to make investments in education, job creation and providing property tax relief. He added that DFLers are working on a number of alternatives to see where that money will come from.

“I think that (Dayton) heard the same concerns our representatives have been hearing … about the impact that (the business-to-business tax) could have on Minnesota’s economy,” he said.

Republican leaders are less optimistic that the same bipartisan spirit will continue during Monday’s expected conference committee on HF5, the health care exchange bill.

Despite the addition of 14 Republican amendments to the bill when passed by the Senate Thursday, Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) said there’s much to the bill as it currently stands that Republicans cannot accept.

“It’s not accountable and there’s many unanswered questions,” she said.

As the first committee deadline closes in, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) said one-day hearings on the same-sex marriage bill are scheduled Tuesday in the House and Senate. If approved by the House Civil Law Committee, the bill would be sent to the House Floor, Murphy said, adding that it would not be taken up until the budget is addressed.

Republican leaders questioned the timing of the hearings.

“We think it’s the wrong priority,” said Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie). “I think we ought to focus on the budget.”