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Property tax ideas still coming in

Rep. Paul Marquart, chairman of the House property taxes committee, set up a hotline to receive public comments on the matter and has been getting ideas, such as:

-- "For resorts, freeze or minimize property tax on resorts if the resort would agree to not break up the land for a certain amount of time to developers. This would save ma and pa resorts from breaking up. My bet is ma and pa would not sell." -- from Park Rapids.

-- "Adjust the tax code so that year-round lakeshore restaurants would not be treated the same a seasonal recreation." - from Spicer

-- "Increase the maximum homeowners property tax refund." - from Mankato

Marquart's staff will put together some of the best ideas into a bill that the Dilworth Democrat's committee will consider

Seifert v. Oberstar

Minnesota House and Senate transportation committees gave U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar a rock-star welcome when he came to the state Capitol last week for the first time as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Democratic leaders of the state committees wanted the northeastern Minnesota Democrat to emphasize that the state needs to increase its transportation and transit funding, and when that happens more federal money will flow to Minnesota. That was just his message, urging an increase in the state gasoline tax.

But State House Minority Leader Mart Seifert, R-Marshall, said Oberstar should take another tactic. Seifert said Oberstar needs to just make sure a fair percentage of federal gasoline tax paid in Minnesota be sent back to the state, regardless of how much the state spends.

As it is, federal highway aid is partially based on how much state money is spent, so states that spend more get more.


Minnesota Rep. Aaron Peterson, DFL-Appleton, hopes Gov. Tim Pawlenty is right.

Before he signed a bill Thursday that forces electric utilities to increase their use of renewable sources like wind, Pawlenty thanked the bill's top supporters, including Peterson. The Republican governor called the state representative "Sen. Aaron Peterson," which the western Minnesota Democrat may have liked since he is mulling running for U.S. Senate.

Smoke ban survey

A Minnesota House lawmaker wants to cut through the smoke and find out what the public thinks about a proposed workplace smoking ban.

Chairman Joe Atkins of the House Commerce and Labor Committee set up a Web site at with a link to the survey.

Legislators are looking into whether to ban smoking in workplaces, but there is a dispute about whether bars should be included.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.