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May 11, 2005

On to the next committee

I am a sick person. I can admit that. Rather than watch a thrilling victory by the Twins last night, I huddled in front of my computer to watch a 3 inch display of the Governmental Operations committee. Sorry for the lack of updates, but I wanted to watch more to just get a sense of the support (or lack of support) for the bill in the legislature. I came away feeling pretty good.

As you probably know by now, the bill passed through the committee on an overwhelming 17-5 vote. Obviously, this was pro-stadium committee. In fact, the chair of the committee, Kathy Tingelstad from Andover, opened the meeting by saying she was not only in favor of the Twins stadium, but also the Vikings stadium which would be built in her district's county if Anoka County ever gets a chance at the legislature. After I heard that, I was pretty confident this bill would get a fair hearing.

After that, the Twins, Hennepin County, and Finstad made their pitch for the plan. Then the committee heard a couple of hours of public testimony both for and against the plan. I was, of course, unimpressed with the testimony against the plan, and not for the obvious reasons. Mainly I was unimpressed because it seemed a lot of the opposition were only against this plan because they thought they had a better plan. What a humongous waste of time. Of the people that signed up to speak, 15 were for the plan, and only 8 were against.

Concerning the actual committee vote, of the 5 people that voted against the bill two were from Minneapolis, DFLers Phyllis Kahn and Diane Loeffler, and one was Mark Olson from Big Lake. More about him in a minute. However, Neil Peterson, a representative from Bloomington and the former mayor of Bloomington voted in favor of the bill. This was surprising and highly welcome. As you know, Bloomington is the home of the Mall of America and from what I have heard Bloomington representatives have been very critical of this plan calling it an attempt to grab money from the MOA.

Peterson's yes vote came at an interesting price, though. During the Hennepin County Commissioners meeting of last week, an amendment was successfully attached to use any excess money from the general sales tax to fund other county projects, such as keeping libraries open longer. Peterson's amendment successfully removed that commissioners meeting amendment. According to him, the tax should only be used to pay off the stadium so that the debt can be paid off quickly and his constituency won't be taxed on unknown projects that may be outside of his district. Fair enough. Peterson's amendment passed and I don't think the Hennepin County Commissioners will have a problem with it.

There was a lot of discussion of referendums, but Tingelstad successfully fought them off claiming that this kind of discussion is probably out of the purview of the Governmental Operations committee. Mark Olson tried his best to attach one, but it was defeated 13-9. That is the good news. Now, the bad news is Mark Olson is the chair of the Local Government committee where the bill is headed for next. In his capacity as chair of this committee, Olson will almost assuredly entertain every attempt to discuss a referendum for this proposal. In other words, this is where it is going to start getting tough.

And if this bill can get through Local Government unscathed, it will head for the ultra-nasty Taxes committee where Phil Krinkie will again do his darndest to attach a referendum to the proposal. Ouch ouch ouch. I have a glimmer of hope still, but only a glimmer. This is going to be tough.

During the next couple of days I hope to look at the membership of the Local Government committee and try to predict where the opposition will come from. And whether or not I think this bill can make it through the committee. Until next time...

Posted by snackeru at May 11, 2005 8:48 AM | Stadiums

Comments

Great news! This seems to be the best chance for a stadium in quite some time.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at May 11, 2005 8:58 AM

Thta's Phil "We don't need paved streets" Krinkie to you.

Posted by: SBG at May 11, 2005 10:43 AM

I totally empathize with your situation, Shane. I was trying to hammer out an outline for my Privacy Law final while watching the Twins v. Baltimore on mlb webcast. However, I couldn't enjoy it, instead I was constantly clicking back to your website to see if the bill made it through committee. This is really eating me up inside, how ever is a 3L to study?

Posted by: Vince at May 11, 2005 11:36 AM

Vince -- as a former 3L, I can tell you that you simply don't study.

Posted by: SBG at May 11, 2005 6:03 PM

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