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State Legislature: Bakk wants clothing tax, Haiti break OK'd

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ST. PAUL -- The Senate tax chairman, who is running for governor, wants to tax clothing as a way to increase school funding and plug the state budget deficit.

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Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, introduced legislation Thursday to eliminate the sales tax exemption on clothing beginning July 1 and slightly lower the overall sales tax rate a year later.

"This is a bold plan that, if enacted, would repay schools more than $120 million ... reduce our budget deficit by more than $257 million in 2011 and permanently reduce Minnesota's general sales tax rate from 6.5 percent to 6.25 percent, saving taxpayers and business owners millions of dollars on purchases," Bakk said.

For the current two-year budget, with a $994 million deficit, the added money would be used to balance the budget. After the current two-year budget, the new money would go to schools.

Republicans do not like the idea.

"Minnesota families are currently overburdened with excessive taxes and Sen. Bakk's call for new tax increases is simply the wrong approach to jump-starting Minnesota's economy," Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said.

Legion honored

The House voted 123-6 Thursday to set Sept. 16 as American Legion Day.

"It gives us another opportunity another opportunity to say to every veteran ... 'Thank you for your service,'" Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, said.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, said the Veterans of Foreign Wars will bring up a similar bill. Despite being a Legion and VFW member, he said, he opposes such bills. "Where do we draw the line?"

Senators earlier unanimously approved the bill, so it heads to the governor for his signature.

Haiti break OK'd

Senators voted 59-0 to allow Minnesotans to give a tax break on their 2009 taxes if they donated to Haiti earthquake relief.

The House already passed the bill, so it awaits Gov. Tim Pawlenty's signature.

Probation changed

East Grand Forks and New Hope may put new police officers on 12-month probation periods under a bill the House unanimously passed Thursday.

Current law restricts the two cities to six-month probation periods, while other cities are allowed a year.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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