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Associated Press Doherty asks for bills reducing property taxes

HELENA (AP) - Senate Minority Leader Steve Doherty, who criticized majority Republicans for expanding the upcoming special session of the Legislature to include tax cuts, now says he wants a debate over who should benefit from whatever tax cuts are approved.

"It seems to me that since the door has been opened by the Republicans, there's a few things we need to talk about," Doherty said.

He said he has asked legislative staff to draft two bills reducing property taxes for Montana homeowners, saying that is "the thing that most people have complained to me about."

Two other Democrats also have proposed tax-relief bills in the past several days, bringing to nine the total number of tax bills requested by lawmakers for the session beginning May 8.

Gov. Marc Racicot called the special session last week, limiting its agenda to the funding of $13 million in economic development programs during the next year. The existing funding was struck down by the Montana Supreme Court earlier this year.

But Republicans last week voted to expand the agenda to include tax cuts. Their proposals include reductions in state income taxes and local property taxes.

Democrats, though critical of the Republican move to expand the session, now are offering their own tax bills.

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