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Third of homeowners would get tax break

ST. PAUL - Taxes would fall for a third of Minnesota homeowners in a House Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party property tax proposal. House researcher Nina Manzi told the House Taxes Committee Monday that about 500,000 Minnesotans may be affected. The ...

ST. PAUL - Taxes would fall for a third of Minnesota homeowners in a House Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party property tax proposal.

House researcher Nina Manzi told the House Taxes Committee Monday that about 500,000 Minnesotans may be affected.

The property tax proposal - the highlight of an overall tax bill unveiled Monday - eliminates income tax deductions for homeowners' property tax payments. Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, said anyone who pays more than 2 percent of their income in property taxes would benefit.

Marquart, House property tax chairman, said the bill does not match up with a Senate proposal that puts its emphasis on increasing state aid paid to local governments. The House bill would send $207 million directly to homeowners, although some Minnesotans would pay higher property taxes to fund cuts the others receive.

Marquart said he has not talked to Gov. Tim Pawlenty about the property tax plan, but it was crafted to meet the governor's demand that taxes not be raised.

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During a Monday hearing, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the bill would force cabin owners to pay more taxes than they do now.

Minnesotans can determine about how they would be affected by the bill at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/committee.asp?comm3100 .

The proposal could be voted by the full House Monday.

GOP buys ads

Republicans begin airing a television commercial today in the Twin Cities area that targets House Democrats who supported a state gasoline tax increase earlier this year.

It could be aired elsewhere later.

"Who's to blame for higher gas prices? It's the Democrats in the state Capitol," says a voice in the 15-second ad.

The House Republican Campaign Committee-funded ad will appear on Twin Cities' network affiliate television stations.

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Originally, the GOP wanted the ad to appear at gasoline pumps that feature video monitors, but one chain of stations turned down the request, House Minority Leader Marty Seifert said. His staff is inquiring about running the ads on monitors at another chain.

Seifert, R-Marshall, said Republicans have prepared between 10 and 15 ads targeting specific Twin Cities-area House Democrats for use on gas pump monitors in those districts, but without an agreement with gas stations they will pay to run a general anti-tax ad on television. Seifert said the ad buy could expand to cable channels in greater Minnesota.

The Legislature earlier this year overrode Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of a transportation funding bill that included a gas tax increase of up to 8.5 cents per gallon. Seifert said the GOP ads will not target six House Republicans who voted for the override. Democrats say the gas tax hike is needed to fund important road, bridge and transit projects.

Pawlenty OKs cancer study

Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislation Monday funding a study of cancer found at an abnormally high rate among Iron Range mine workers.

Pawlenty approved the bill paying for a $4.9 million study of mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer believed to have caused the deaths of 58 northeastern Minnesota mine workers.

Infant measure removed

Minnesota representatives voted Monday to eliminate a plan calling for a doctor's order before a daycare provider places an infant on its back or stomach for sleep.

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Opponents of the measure said it strips parental rights; supporters said it was aimed at reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

The House voted 88-42 to remove the provision from a welfare and child assistance bill, which was approved 104-27.

Welfare limited

Representatives decided Minnesota welfare recipients should be prohibited from using state-funded cash assistance to buy alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, and others said on Monday that taxpayer dollars that go toward welfare should not be spent on those products. Seifert's amendment to a welfare and child assistance bill passed 101-28. The full bill then was passed by the House.

Democrats who opposed the amendment said it was a partisan "gotcha" vote and that more should be done to help Minnesotans avoid needing welfare.

School day plan rejected

Minnesota schools should be allowed to shorten their school days, representatives decided Monday while debating an education policy bill.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, wanted to prohibit schools from shortening their school days in future academic years. He said school days are getting shorter, but there is even more students must learn.

"For goodness sakes," Seifert said during a floor debate, "could we at least agree that the school day shouldn't be any shorter?"

Democratic Rep. Mindy Greiling of Roseville responded: "You can't just issue edicts to schools when you're under-funding them."

Seifert's amendment was defeated 72-59.

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Don Davis and Scott Wente work for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

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