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May 20, 2005

Friday notes

People ... PEOPLE!!! Why must I be cursed with these thoughts? I cannot, no matter how hard I try, stop thinking about this stupid Twins stadium. I pray that this year this issue is finally resolved if for no other reason than just to retain my own sanity. Gah! Let's get to the news:

• The legislative session ends on Monday. There is no way that the Taxes committee is going to tackle this issue before then. Of course, for weeks now most legislative pundits have been predicting a special session, and with Pawlenty's veto of the gas tax yesterday I think it is a given now. So, if this ballpark bill is to carry on it will have to be done within this special session. And the rules will slightly change. According to a document I found on the legislature's web site (PDF):

Each special session is a separate, free-standing meeting of the legislature, independent of the regular legislative session and any other special session. All legislation to be considered must be introduced as new bills. The legislature may not act on bills from the regular session or another special session.

Interesting. So, the ballpark bill will have to be re-submitted. Does this mean it will have to go through the same committees? Probably not, I would think it would go straight to Taxes. However, Taxes is going to be busy with more important matters (omnibus tax bills), as they should. So, is there a chance this bill could skirt by some of the legislative protocol and committee rules? I think there is. Again, according to the document above:

[T]he legislature usually uses expedited procedures to pass legislation. During special sessions, the House and the Senate often pass bills shortly after they are introduced. This is accomplished by declaring an “urgency” and suspending both the constitutional requirement that each bill be considered on three different days in each house and the requirement of legislative rules that each bill be referred to a committee when it is introduced. The two-thirds vote required in each house to expedite passage in this way usually is forthcoming, because legislators generally wish to curb the length of the session.

Now, I don't think the ballpark bill has a chance of getting 2/3 of the votes in the House. I'm not that stupid. The Senate? Maybe. However, what if in the special session the ballpark bill was introduced, sent to say the Ways and Means committee (given all the work the Taxes committee has to do), and passed there. Could the bill then move to the floor? Constitutionally, how many committees does a bill have to go through before it gets to the House floor? I'm thinking that in a special session the rules are a little different, perhaps.

Well, I think we are going to get a chance to find out. Should be interesting.

• As Steve pointed out yesterday (thanks Steve!), there was a great StarTrib editorial concerning our favorite topic. I encourage everyone to read it as it does an excellent job of spelling out the reasons why a referendum on this issue continues to be such a bad idea:

Second, if a referendum were somehow compelled, the expense in time, money and injury to public discourse would far outweigh any benefit. Interest rates and construction costs are rising. Already a decade of delay has added $200 million to the project's cost. A televised, California-style campaign of shallow, vitriolic attacks shouldn't be the model that Minnesota follows on this or any issue. The inaccuracies spouted in public testimony on this matter have been stunning. This alone should be a clue to legislators that they are best qualified to cooly and factually assess this issue. We already have referendums every four years; they're called elections.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. Referendums, or as I like to call them "the enemies of progress," are just a huge cop out by our legislators. Do the job we elected you to do! If you don't want the job, please step down and we'll try to find someone who does. The inaccuracies spouted by (and believed!) by the public that are sure to precede a referendum would truly be stunning. Not to mention the fact that this issue would further divide our state and just plain be nasty. Who wants that?

Also, the paragraph above reminded me of another simple fact: would any other bill of this kind of importance survive the scrutiny (public and legislative) that ballpark bills usually have to endure? Never. If we treated all of our spending bills like we treat ballpark legislation nothing would ever get accomplished. Nothing could survive this kind of scrutiny! My point is there are pros and cons to almost every kind of legislation out there, especially legislation involving money. Sometimes you've just got to focus on the pros, like we do with most other bills, and get the job done.

• Did you see that MLB has now given the Florida Marlins an ultimatum that by June 9 they must have their stadium financing in order? What MLB didn't to do was list any consequences for failure to meet this deadline. What could happen to the Marlins if they don't have a workable plan by June 9? A move to Las Vegas? Who knows. Personally, I think MLB is waiting to see what happens with the Twins. The options open up with both the Marlins and the Twins unable to secure stadium deals. The current MLB collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ends December 2006. After that, contraction becomes an option again. I can't believe MLB would try something like this again, but they've done some really stupid things before (like try contraction). Let's just pray that the Twins and Hennepin County can get the job done.

Gotta go for now. See you soon.

Posted by snackeru at May 20, 2005 8:55 AM | Stadiums


Granted most of my contacts and sources are on the St. paul side of the river, but I am not hearing good odds of the Hennipen County plan getting through, let alone getting through without a referendum. I, like you, was cautously optomistic when the plan started through the Capitol, but now I am pretty doubtful. The opposition has made a pretty good argument against the sales tax without a referendum. The comparisons to the Guthrie, light rail, etc... are like apples to oranges since that was state money and this is a county tax levy that needs to be approved by the voters according to the state constitution. The other side has really driven this home and I am talking to more and more people (stadium supporters) that see something shady. I am not sure how things would work in St. Paul with a bar and restaurant tax not going through a referendum like Kelly was proposing. Maybe that is not in the city charter and can be bypassed.
Anyway, I don't hold out too much hope. I will be calling My rep, Paymar, after reading your reports. I would like to know what his deal is and why he can't suck it up and vote when called.

Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at May 22, 2005 7:40 PM

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