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March 2, 2006

My thoughts on various topics

• Let's start with the most obvious. I have been doing a lot of updating to the Voter's Guide, the votes in the House Taxes Committee, and the votes in the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now I am pretty confident that I have them correct, and right now they all show that a Twins stadium bill will pass (sometimes barely). I had to switch a bunch of people back to no since I seem to have misunderstood some of the information I have been receiving. If anyone has any insight to these predictions, please drop me a line at snackeru@umn.edu (if you'd like to remain anonymous) or leave a comment below. Things are looking good!

• Speaking of which, thanks to a late night phone call from Cheesehead Craig last night I was able to catch the last half of TPT Almanac on channel 2 (PBS). They were interviewing both Dean Johnson and Steve Sviggum and asking them about various issues that might come up in this legislative session. A lot of time was spent on an amendment to the Minnesota constitution to ban gay marriage (which I find to be a ridiculous waste of time), and then they got into stadiums. Both Sviggum and Johnson said they want to vote on both a Gophers and Twins stadium, and both said they think the Hennepin County plan is a pretty good one. Sviggum said he didn't think they could get to a Vikings stadium this session, but Johnson actually said he hoped they would take care of that one too.

This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but it still puts a little bounce in my step today. Of course, nothing will happen until T-Paw and/or "legislative leadership" asks Hennepin County to begin negotiating with the Twins again, but I will let you know if that is happening as soon as I hear something.

• Last week I also heard that Tony Cornish could be switching his vote from a No for a Twins stadium to a Yes. This was shocking news to me since last year in the Local Government committee Cornish made it quite clear that he would only vote for a Twins stadium if the Twins put up half. So, I wrote him an email asking him if he was now in favor of the Twins stadium, and if he was also in favor of the Vikings stadium in Anoka County since Zygi Wilf is putting up at least half. Here is the response I got:

You were given bad information. I plan to vote no on Twins Stadium.

Well, at least he isn't wishy washy about it. He also avoided my question on the Vikings stadium which I take to mean he would also vote no on that. Bummer.

Why am I telling you all of this? Please, I am begging you ... write your legislators and let me know what they say. They will write you back (most of the time) and sometimes their responses are very insightful. Plus, by writing your legislators we can put extra pressure on them to finally get this job done.

• Finally, as most of you know I recently purchased an iPod Video as a gift to myself for everything I do for me. I know, how thoughtful of myself. Anyway, for the past three nights I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get a full length DVD onto it. Specifically, I've been trying to put The Matrix onto it. Well, don't you worry your pretty little head about it. Behold, my triumph:

The Matrix on my iPod

Yes, I finally got it to work. My main problems were 1) I was using free software and sometimes that can be unreliable and 2) I couldn't get the audio and video to sync up. After trying a whole bunch of different settings on the software it finally went through. If you are interested in my process and/or settings, please let me know.

So, do you understand what this means? It means that I can now watch The Matrix on the 2.5 inch screen of my iPod! Aren't you jealous? I mean, you still have to watch The Matrix on your big screen TV with your surround sound system! I'm sorry, but that is truly pathetic! Get with the times, man.

Posted by snackeru at March 2, 2006 8:24 AM | Life | Stadiums


Yeah, I'm jealous of your mini-movie screen. I like the iPods, but I think the only thing that will get me on the bandwagon is if a) my Archos Multimedia dies or b) I have to commute to work. On a commute I would love to be able to easily load podcasts on my iPod before I leave for the day.

Posted by: bjhess at March 2, 2006 9:45 AM

I wonder if the host of that PBS show would be a good person to send an email to on the stadium issue? She is at the capitol all the time and does that show daily (I think), so she could have some real good insight on the issue.

Glad to also have been a part of seeing Alex's first communion last night. Thanks for the invite.

I figured that a U2 concert would have been the first thing you downloaded onto the ipod

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 2, 2006 10:36 AM

Compared to the Twins, ANY other issue is "a ridiculous waste of time".

Posted by: Jeff A at March 2, 2006 11:24 AM

Jeff, I think you are being facetious at my expense! But sadly, you are probably right in my case. I would consider the session to be a complete success if the only thing they did was approve a Twins stadium.

Truly, I can't wait until this issue goes away.

Posted by: Shane at March 2, 2006 11:47 AM

Actually, it wasn't intended to be at your expense. I think about baseball in general and the Twins in particular more than any six normal people, and while I don't literally consider the Twins more important than anything else, they are pretty high on the list.

Posted by: Jeff A at March 2, 2006 5:25 PM

I chuckle every time I read something like

'Compared to the Twins, ANY other issue is "a ridiculous waste of time".'

because it shows how ignorant most folks are about what happens in state government.

Here's a little trivia question for you - everybody knows that the current legislative session opened yesterday. How many bills are, at the time I write this, awaiting action by some subcommittee, committee, or the like?

If you said 'about a thousand, in the House alone', you'd be right.

Check out http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/revisor/pages/search_status/status_results.php?body=House&search=basic&session=0842005&location=House&bill=&bill_type=bill&rev_number=&keyword_type=any&keyword=&keyword_field_short=1&keyword_field_long=1&keyword_field_title=1&topic%5B%5D=&submit_topic=GO&titleword=

While some of these are probably not terribly important (the bill to establish Juneteenth as a holiday), and some are probably just minor procedural bills, there are some interesing ones in the mix:

- A local sales tax authorization for North Mankato.
- Ratification of labor agreements and compensation plans for state employees.
- A constitutional amendment restricting the use of eminent domain and increasing homeowner compensation in eminent domain actions.
- A constitutional amendment requiring the state to create a universal health care system focused on preventive care.
- A bill to penalize pharmacists for failing to dispense prescribed medications.
- A bill to authorize wagering on electronic horse races.
- Funding for Lake Superior safe harbors.
- Funding to provide state patrol cars with defibrillation machines.
- A bill to add violation of domestic-violence related no-contact orders to the list of domestic-violence related offenses.
- A bill authorizing counties to withdraw from regional jail systems.
- A bill authorizing medical examiners to share data on suspicious deaths with the state agency that tracks maltreatment of vulnerable adults.
- The 'disruption of funeral services' bill intended to react to anti-gay protests at military funerals.
- A constitutional amendment to direct motor vehicle sales taxes directly to transportation needs; specifically public transit assistance and the highway fund.
- Bond issues for the state correctional facilities at Stillwater and Shakopee.
- Bond issues for the renovation and expansion of the St. Cloud Regional Airport and St. Cloud Civic Center
- A bill extending the fish spearing season.
- Modification of the requirements for provisional driver licenses.
- Modification of the requirements for deaf student interpreters. (A good friend has been working as a deaf student interpreter for some years, and she's following this bill with obvious interest.)
- Bonds issued for the improvement of the St. Vincent dike in Kittson County.
- A bill that prohibits health care providers from refusing to contract with government health plans and county-based purchasing organizations under certain circumstances.
- A bill to prohibit voter challenges on certain types of mailings by political parties.
- Bonds issued for the Katherine Island bridge in Albert Lea.
- A bill to modify absentee ballot voting.
- A bill to prohibit traffic citations based solely on photographic evidence.
- A bill requiring all Level III sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices.
- A bill that increases the penalties for domestic assault if that assault occurs in the presence of a child.
- A bill that prohibits contracting with private companies to house state and local inmates and that requires that all inmates be housed in publically owned and operated facilities.
- Bonds issued for cleanup of North Edgewater Park in Albert Lea.
- Bonds issued to resurface the track at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
- Bonds issued to fund the MacPhail Center for Music.
- Bonds issued to fund building improvements for the medical building at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Lino Lakes.
- A bill providing consumer protections from shady wireless telecommunications company practices.
- A bill adopting the state of California's low emission vehicle standards.
- A bill prohibiting former legislators and state employees from becoming lobbyists for two years, requiring certain committee communications to be open to the public, and other disclosure requirements relating to lobbyists.
- A bill to make driving while using a cell phone a petty misdemeanor for drivers under the age of 18.
- Bonds issued to fund improvements of the interchange at I-94 and Radio Drive.
- Various modifications to the state tax code, including adding a military pension tax deduction, and modifying the alternative minimum tax.
- A bill prohibiting legislators from receiving pay after May 31 in odd-numbered years unless all 'major' budget bills have been passed.
- A bill requiring employers to provide paid leaves of absense for employees whose family members have been killed in military service.
- Bonds issued for the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority.

I'm sure you're all sick of reading these by now, but I'm not even a third of the way through the list. And I'd be willing to bet that, if you really think about it, there's at least one item on this list (if not more) that you actually find more significant to your life then whether or not a new Twins stadium gets built.

I realize this is a pro-stadium hangout, but let's not lose our heads entirely here...

Posted by: David Wintheiser at March 2, 2006 6:47 PM

Hey, David, chill. I said I didn't mean it literally. Although, since I live in South Dakota, it actually is true that none of the issues that you mentioned as being taken up by the East Dakota legislature affect my life as much as a Twins stadium.

I have enough to do trying to keep up with all the screwy things our South Dakota legislature and governor do. You'll have to take care of yours on your own.

Posted by: Jeff A at March 3, 2006 9:02 AM

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