This week featured long legislative committee hearings and floor sessions as legislators raced to get bills through committees in order to reach the first committee policy deadline set for March 15. The Health Insurance Exchange passed the House and the Senate. The Silica Sand Mining bill passed another committee, and new University of Minnesota Regents were elected. This morning, Governor Dayton announced that he will forgo his business sales tax proposal.

Governor Dayton to Forgo Business to Business Sales Taxes on Services

This morning at the Twin West Chamber Breakfast meeting, Governor Dayton announced that he will withdraw his proposal to broaden the state sales tax to business service transactions. His spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci, said that she expects that he will also drop his clothing sales tax request. Both proposals drew sharp criticism from the business community and legislators on both sides of the aisle. He will release a revised budget proposal next Tuesday after reviewing the Minnesota Management and Budget's revenue forecast released two weeks ago that showed the state's budget deficit had improved from $1.1 billion last November to $627 million in February. Dayton indicated that he was going to stick with his plan to raise income taxes on the wealthy.

Health Insurance Exchange

The bill for the state-based Health Insurance Exchange went through the House on Monday and the Senate on Thursday. HF5, sponsored by Rep. Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Sen. Lourey (DFL-Kerrick), establishes the exchange as an online tool where individuals and small businesses can purchase health plans. The bill passed in the House after a 72-58 vote and in the Senate after a 37-28 vote. The bill was amended by both bodies and will be heard in conference committee before final passage.

Silica Sand Mining

On Wednesday, the Senate State and Local Government Committee heard SF786, sponsored by Sen. Schmit (DFL-Red Wing). The bill establishes a statewide moratorium on silica sand mining in the state and creates the Southeastern Minnesota Silica Sand Mining Board. The committee passed the bill with an 8-5 vote, and it will next be heard in the Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Finance Division.