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April 25, 2006

I could get used to this!

• You know, I've never seen this kind of success before out of a Twins stadium bill. For the past 10 years I have kind of resigned myself to the fate of seeing failure after failure after failure. But to see a Twins stadium bill pass through the House Taxes Committee (where it never saw the light of day in 2005) and the House Ways and Means Committee (where it failed in 2004) is almost surreal. But if it passes the House floor? Oh man ... that would be a sign that the end times are here. Passage of a new Twins stadium bill out of the House will be proof of the imminent return of Jesus and the upcoming battle of Armageddon. In addition, the very fabric of the space-time continuum will be ripped, we will reach the apex of the cone of time, and Marty McFly will not make it Back to the Future. If a Twins stadium bill is passed out of the House, I will either have a heart attack out of happiness or I will fall into a state of catatonic shock and eat jello from a straw for the rest of my life. Will it be worth it? Oh yes. Bring it on. For you, Minnesota Twins fan, I am willing to risk it. Besides, I like jello.

• Today I will be updating the Ways and Means Committee votes page to reflect what actually happened, but I am pretty sure I was one off with a few legislators passing or actually absent. Larson was a no (although it seemed to be painful for him to vote No for some reason) while Smith was a Yes (even though he said he was only voting yes to move it to the floor of the House, not because he was in favor of it).

What is strange about Smith's vote is if he would have switched to a No, the bill may not have passed. All of these shenanigans lead me to believe that the votes are all already lined up. We are just watching a play unfolding with the end result already written. Hennepin County legislators have struck a deal with out-state legislators that allows them to vehemently oppose the bill while also allowing the bill to pass. I am a firm believer that deep down, a fair amount of opposing legislators actually want this bill to pass. It is a win-win for them. They get to "stand their ground" and oppose this piece of corporate welfare, and if it passes they won't have to deal with the possibilty of something happening to the Twins.

That is why I have so much respect for legislators like Kelliher, Sykora, and Neil Peterson. These are Hennepin County legislators that understand what a wonderful thing it will be to have a $500 million public works project in their county, and what a wonderful thing it will be to have a new ballpark for the citizens of Minnesota.

Enough rambling ...

• OK, what needs to happen next? Let's take a look:

  1. On Wednesday the bill will be debated on the House floor. And you better believe this will be the floor session of the century. I wouldn't be surprised if it lasts until 2 am. Phyllis Kahn alone will take an hour with all her amendments. And of course, there will be another attempt at a referendum amendment. This will be a nasty, snarky floor session, but I predict that the votes are there. Barely, but they are there.
  2. If it passes the floor of the House, it will finally be taken up by the Senate Tax Committee chaired by Larry Pogemiller. Again, this will not be easy. Pogemiller has already made clear two things: 1) he will not vote in favor of the bill without a referendum and 2) he is not in favor of Hennepin County footing the bill. Pogemiller is going to try to combine all 3 stadium bills into one and pay for them all with a metro-wide sales tax. This is a noble idea, don't get me wrong, but this action would effectively kill all three bills. There is no way that the House, especially the legislators from the entire metro-area, would go for this. However, I think there are enough votes in the Senate Tax Committee to vote Pogemiller down. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out. I'm putting together a list of the Senate Tax Committee members and where they stand for your edification.
  3. After it passes the Senate Tax Committee, it will go to the floor of the Senate for another rip-snorting session full of amendments, name calling, and angry legislators. Should be fun. It has always been assumed that the Senate will have an easier time passing a Twins stadium bill than the House. Hopefully we'll get a chance to find out.
  4. After that, there will be a conference committee because the stadium bill from the House and the stadium bill from the Senate will have differences. So, the conference committee will hash out the differences.
  5. Once the conference committee works out the differences, the Senate and the House will vote on the bill again. Hopefully this will go down more smoothly, but who knows. Again, it should be interesting.
  6. Finally, the bill will go to the Governor, who will have to sign a bill that raises a tax in Hennepin County in an election year. buttmonkey.jpg I think he'll sign it, but he will be feeling some major pressure from anti-stadium groups.
  7. If he signs it, if this bill to build a new Twins stadium is signed into law, monkeys will fly out of my butt. It will be painful, but it will be worth it.

That's it for now. Catch ya on the flip side...

Posted by snackeru at April 25, 2006 8:07 AM | Stadiums 2006


I am trying so hard not to get my hopes up. Things look to good to be true.

Posted by: Vince at April 25, 2006 10:42 AM


good insights... excellent coverage. any word on the rumor that sen. taxes may take it up tomorrow?

Posted by: BT at April 25, 2006 11:08 AM

Variety of comments

I find myself humming "I'm only a Bill" from School House Rock when reading Greet Machine lately.

It's an old voting strategy where you promise you won't be the deciding "No" vote but if the supporters don't need the vote, you will vote no because of the rubes back in your district. This clearly happened at the last two committees, probably will on the floor vote too.

Coleman's Sunday column was a doozy again. Today a Strib letter writer really takes Gollum to task for his outright lies.

Finally I'd love to see a poll on the current Henn. Co. ballpark financing deal. My guess is that it probably is being favorably received, that's why you are seeing such movement this year.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 25, 2006 11:19 AM

Shane -- Informative rundown. Thanks.

Freealonzo -- Enjoyed your thoughts re: "voting strategy." Sounds about right, particularly given the razor-thin margins. I also imagine, as is also typical, that there is quite a bit of horse-trading going on behind the scenes.

I too would like to see a poll. Perhaps public sentiment has shifted (doubtful, but possible). Then we'd have the Twins and guys like Hartman suddenly exalting the virtues of public opinion. They'd still run scared from a referendum though.

The absence of a poll strikes me as rather odd, given the centrality of the referendum issue. Do you think the pro-stadium Star-Trib is deliberately avoiding one, sitting on the results on one, or just figures this has been polled to death? Let me put it this way: if the Star-Trib was anti-stadium, they'd have had a poll demonstrating Hennepin County voter opposition before the Tax Committee hearings, no?

Posted by: David at April 25, 2006 2:05 PM

Don't worry all, should the stadium bill get passed, I shall personally take the picture of monkeys coming out of Shane's butt.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 25, 2006 2:25 PM

It appears that the Strib isn't polling because it's too costly, see the readers rep article this past sunday. Here are my (unbiased) poll questions.

1. Do you support the plan to impose a sales tax that will cost 3 cents for every $20 spent on taxable items in Hennepin County to pay 2/3 of the cost of a new Twins Ballpark in Minneapolis?

2. Should Hennepin County residents vote on such a plan in a referendum before such a sales tax is enacted?

I would guess that both questions would have more yes votes, with question #2 more so.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 25, 2006 2:36 PM

Shane! Rmember that stadium fantasy article I had you read? It's all coming true!

Posted by: TwinsJunkie at April 25, 2006 8:40 PM

Wow, you are right TwinsJunkie! Hilarious. Do you know the lottery numbers for tomorrow night?

Posted by: Shane at April 25, 2006 9:44 PM

Shane! Rmember that stadium fantasy article I had you read? It's all coming true!

Posted by: TwinsJunkie at April 26, 2006 7:12 AM

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