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Bill would exempt new radio equipment from sales tax

State Representative Jay McNamar, DFL-Elbow Lake, presented a bill to the House taxes committee that would make all ARMER radio equipment exempt from state taxes.

Currently, firefighters, police officers, and other first responders are federally required to upgrade their radio equipment to new radios that operate on a different frequency.

But for many communities, the cost to upgrade that equipment can be a large portion of their budget. The bill would lessen that burden, by making those purchases exempt from Minnesota taxes.

"This is something that local law enforcement and first responders really need," said McNamar. "For some of these communities, that extra cost can mean deciding between new equipment and not being able to communicate with other responders in the area. This bill will keep our communities safe by keeping those first responders well equipped to do their jobs."

Testifying at the hearing were Troy Langlie, a Grant County sheriff's deputy, Sheriff Daniel Hartog of Kandiyohi County, and representatives from the St Cloud Fire Department and the League of Minnesota Cities.

"As a former mayor, I know how tough it can be to balance those local budgets," said McNamar. "Public safety is a real statewide priority. And with all the support I've received on this bill, I know we'll be able to keep it that way."

The bill has bipartisan support from more than 20 co-authors in the House. It will be carried by Senator Torrey Westrom, also of Elbow Lake, in the Senate.