The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 27, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: Cornish finds a gun control bill he likes

(Continued)

Torkelson gets tax duty

Rep. Paul Torkelson, a Republican from Hanska, will be one of five House members to work with the Senate on a tax-relief bill worth about $100 million.

Torkelson is pleased to be serving on the committee. Even more, though, he's “just pleased that there’s tax relief at all coming out of the Democrat majority.”

The committee’s job is to combine the House and Senate versions of the bill into one version. As a member of the House, it will be Torkelson’s role to support his chamber's position.

One difference between the bills is that the House is seeking one-time property tax relief while the Senate is seeking to allow more types of local governments (like special sewer districts) to be free from the sales tax. The Senate’s approach is longer-term, while House members, up for election this fall, want to show immediate impact.

Torkelson said he hopes the final bill doesn’t have a lot of long-term costs.

“I’m all for tax relief and the more the better but we do have to be prudent,” he said.

Both bills have some long-term sales tax relief, including a clarification to the sales tax exemption passed last year. The exemption doesn’t apply to local governments' purchases of goods or services that are “generally provided by a private business,” such as for city-run liquor stores.

To take a more bewildering example, if City Hall is rented out for private use, then some percentage of it is subject to the sales tax, Torkelson said.

“It’s really complicated and difficult for a small town to deal with,” he said. At some point, a relatively small exemption becomes more trouble than it’s worth.

DUI exemption in question

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