Our next meeting is Tuesday, September 3rd, at 6:30pm at the Broadway Ballroom (115 30th Ave E, in Alexandria). Please note, this is a change in venue, and there will be servers for those who wish to purchase food and/or something to drink.
A special session is set to take place Sept. 9 in order to provide disaster relief after storms caused damage in 18 Minnesota counties last June.
The hardest-hit areas are mainly in western, central and southern Minnesota. This includes the three counties which make up the legislative district I represent: Pope Douglas and Stearns. I am pleased we are working to provide assistance.
Disappointingly, the special session will not include work to repeal a new sales tax on farm machinery repairs. This tax was passed into law earlier this year and Gov. Mark Dayton recently said he was open to eliminating it during this upcoming one-day special session.
I am among those who deem this new tax to be a mistake that will raise costs for ag. production, especially as we move into the harvest season. In the end, this issue was left off the special-session agenda that Dayton and legislative leaders set.
We will now look to address this issue in the upcoming regular session, which starts in February. There also is a new warehousing tax on ag. inputs and more that I would like to repeal before it takes effect April 1. The governor has said he is open to reconsidering this tax as well.
It is good the brief special session will take place to provide storm relief and that was our top priority all along. It just would have been nice to also fix at least one tax “mistake” that will cost farmers and have a negative ripple effect throughout our state and local economy.
I will provide more specific information regarding the storm-relief package in an upcoming email.
DFL Leadership continues to disappoint Minnesotans
Today, Governor Dayton, DFL leadership and Republican leadership agreed to have a special session on Monday, September 9th 2013. Both parties agree that we should take up the issue of disaster relief that impacted portions of Greater Minnesota Earlier this year. That is where the agreements ended.
Governor Dayton, along with his DFL controlled House and Senate, would not take up the hurtful taxes that were in the tax bill this past legislative session. Governor Dayton who has acknowledged that he didn’t read the tax bill before he signed it will not take on these issues. Republicans and Democrats have agreed that these taxes are harmful to our recovering economy. Our Governor last week stated that the legislature would take a look at repealing the tax on farming equipment repairs. But when it came time for the Governor to step up and repeal a mistake he made, he disappointed us.
Governor Dayton and his DFL allies will look to blame Republicans for trying to cut these taxes and leave the budget in a deficient. He will also say Republicans did not provide where the money could come from. This same Governor, raised taxes over $2 Billion last legislative session, as well as giving his Department Commissioners over a 40% pay increase. That coupled with sculpture gardens and incentives for Hollywood to come to Minnesota I would like to believe we could come up with the money to protect our farmers, merchants and consumers from harmful taxes.
My first priority is the people of Minnesota and protecting their wallets. Not scoring political points. The move to delay repealing these harmful taxes is a disappointing step by our DFL lead government. Please contact your legislator and let them know that action is required now not in 2014.
Office Phone Number
The Minnesota State Fair marks the closing of summer, harvest festivals, and fresh fall produce found at your local farmers market. We are privileged to be able to enjoy and have easy access to what is grown or produced right here in our state. Regional farmers markets are becoming more and more popular as a growing number of people are looking to buy their fruits and vegetables locally and organically.
Farmers markets allow customers to pick produce at the peak of flavor and preserve the freshness and nutritional value. Some also supply items such as soaps, maple syrup, honey, flowers, teas, breads and meats. There is no limit as to what our farmers will provide us with. The markets also stimulate the local economy by providing family farmers with a larger share of each dollar spent.
You can truly help our local and state economy by buying Minnesota grown. Farmers markets are located throughout Wilkin, Grant, Traverse, Big Stone, Stevens, Douglas, Pope and Stearns counties and you can find out more in the Minnesota Grown directory issued annually by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. You can get a free copy by calling (651) 201-6000 or by visiting http://www.minnesotagrown.com. The site also has valuable information that includes current news and events, along with what is in season.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Senator Torrey Westrom
107 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155