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Florida Rep. Radel rips Minnesota governor's 'snowbird' tax plan, welcomes refugees

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FILE: Undated: The main beach at Caladesi Island State Park, a barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico, on Florida's West Coast, Dunedin, Fla. (AP)

A Florida Republican congressman is welcoming to his home state Minnesota residents who migrate south to escape the Midwest’s notoriously cold, harsh winters -- now that their governor is trying to impose a so-called “snowbird tax” on them.

“Dear Governor Mark Dayton,” Rep. Trey Radel wrote Friday. “I'm writing today to thank you. As a Floridian, I am overjoyed to hear about your plan to raise taxes on Minnesotans, most especially the so-called ‘snowbirds.’  Your proposal gives us a chance to shine here in the Sunshine State.”

Dayton, a Democrat, proposed the idea last week when announcing key parts of his proposed $37.9 billion budget. He made a similar proposal last year that was defeated by the then-Republican-controlled legislature.

The plan would purportedly raise no more than $30 million over two years from all Minnesota residents who live 60 days to just under six months in Minnesota by taxing their capital gains and dividends as well as income from stocks and bonds.

However, the prorated income tax would largely hit older residents and retirees, known as “snowbirds” because they leave northern states to establish residency in such warmer places as Arizona and Florida.

Dalton said it’s unfair that somebody can live six months and a day outside of Minnesota and pay no state personal income taxes, then come back and take advantage of “all the state has to offer for five months and 29 days.”

“There is a snowbird tax -- absolutely,” he told reporters.

The purportedly first-of-its-kind tax would be difficult to enforce and is already facing opposing from state Republicans.

“I don’t even think that’s constitutional,” Senate Minority Leader David Hann told the MinnPost.com. “I don’t even know how you’d do that. (And) as far as I can see, there’s not a lot of money attached to it.”

Radel, argues in the letter, which appear written with pointed sarcasm to skewer higher taxes, that southwest Florida would welcome more entrepreneurs and philanthropists investing in the region. And he cited such incentives as no income taxes, investment incentives for big and small businesses and “great” public, charter and private schools.

“It's my sincere hope your plan has just driven many Minnesotans to become year-round residents of our great state,” he wrote. “I thank you for your policy.  It draws the contrast of what is happening not only in United States today, but the world.”