Today’s House tax committee hearing goes to the dogs — Milo and Joey

MinnPost photo by James Nord
Rep. Pat Garofalo and Milo, a four month old puppy, testifed in front of the House Taxes Committee on Tuesday.

It’s certainly not the hardest-hitting legislation proposed this session. In fact, a bill to exempt nonprofit animal shelters from sales tax on pet donation fees hit a soft spot with legislators today.

Shelters that rely on donations to cover the costs of caring for abandoned animals have been hurting since the economy turned sour. Donations have slowed, while the number of animals in need hasn’t.

Sandra Shirley, a volunteer with Last Hope Animal Rescue, said exempting her organization from sales tax on voluntary donations given when adopting a pet could have saved the group more than $60,000 over the past four years.

But two star witnesses seemed best suited to make the case for Rep. Pat Garofalo’s bill: Milo and Joey, a pair of part dachshund puppies.

They squirmed and ran around the witness table. Milo bit the microphone and barked, prompting House Taxes Committee Chairman Greg Davids to jokingly ask, “Rep. Garofalo, could you please get that witness under control?”

MinnPost/James Nord

Discussion on the bill was mostly superficial, although some members had questions on the real worth of a dog in dollars and the definition of a charitable donation.

Testimony against the bill, which would cost $306,000 for fiscal year 2012, was equally sparse.

“Mr. Chairman, if anyone wants to testify against puppies and kitties, I’m all ears,” Garofalo, R-Farmington, said.

The committee held over the measure for potential inclusion in an omnibus tax bill.

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