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April 26, 2006

Back to work

• OK. Party's over. Let's get back to work. There is a stadium bill to pass out of the Senate, and some legislators to convince to make the right decision. The Voter's Guide is now a thing of the past. It is time to focus on the Senate.

• Before I begin, I must send a thanks out to Jason DeRusha (video included in link) at WCCO for treating me kindly last night. Jason called me yesterday afternoon in order to do an interview about this here blog, and at first I really didn't want to do it. Well, the piece turned out to be pretty good. He only had video of me saying two stupid things, and he mentioned my wife which made her happy. So, all in all it was an interesting and fun experience.

And let me tell you, when Amelia Santinello knows who you are? Oh man, that is when you know you have made it! Thanks for my 15 minutes of fame Jason. Now, I'll just go back to my quiet corner of the library.

Let me clarify though. When I said that "This will be my biggest day ever," I meant in terms of hits to my blog, not life in general. And it was a pretty big day. Between 800 and 900 unique visitors, and nearly 3,000 hits. My biggest day previously? The day I described my visit with the Little Brown Jug.

• Enough about all that, though. Let's talk about the Senate and the Senate Tax Committee. I have been working on a Senate version of the Voter's Guide for a while, but let me tell you Minnesota State Senators are tough buggers to pin down. Unlike a lot of their House counterparts, Senators, relatively speaking, have kept their mouths shut concerning this issue. So, it has been somewhat of a challenge.

Today's vote in the House should impact a lot of their votes so I am definitely not ready to say the Senate is a lost cause. However, certain things I've been hearing have led me to believe it will not be as easy to get out of the Senate as previously thought.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, has already made it clear that he will vote against this bill without a referendum. It is also well known that he will attempt to combine all three stadium bills into one "uber" bill and pay for all of them with a metro-wide sales tax. While I think this is a good idea, I also think that combining all the bills will kill all the bills. I just don't think the House would go for it. So, what will happen?

Today the Senate version of the Twins stadium bill will be heard in the Senate Taxes Committee. This is how I see the votes shaking out:

NameEmailPredicted Vote
Chair: Lawrence J. Pogemiller (DFL) sen.larry.pogemiller@senate.mn No ?
Vice Chair: David J. Tomassoni (DFL) sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn Yes
Ranking Minority Member: William V. Belanger Jr. (R) sen.bill.belanger@senate.mn No
Thomas M. Bakk (DFL) sen.tom.bakk@senate.mn Yes
Don Betzold (DFL) sen.don.betzold@senate.mn Yes
Debbie J. Johnson (R) sen.debbie.johnson@senate.mn No
Warren Limmer (R) sen.warren.limmer@senate.mn No
John Marty (DFL) sen.john.marty@senate.mn No
Mike McGinn (R) sen.mike.mcginn@senate.mn ?
Mee Moua (DFL) sen.mee.moua@senate.mn Yes
Julianne E. Ortman (R) sen.julianne.ortman@senate.mn Yes
Rod Skoe (DFL) sen.rod.skoe@senate.mn Yes

Please note! I am not sure of these votes. So please, don't take my word for it. And if you know anything differently, please let me know!

UPDATE: I've been told that today's Senate Tax Committee meeting is only informational. They are going to go over all three bills and think about some possibilities. There may not even be any testimony. That starts at 2:00 today. Tomorrow at 9:00 AM is when the "real" meeting will begin. That is when we'll see what kinds of changes Pogey has in store. This gives us plenty of time to write these Senators! So get to it!

Also, I've been told that Pogey isn't necessarily anti-stadium. He may have a great plan in mind and he may really want to solve all these problems. In fact, I'm pretty sure of that. But I just don't think combining all the bills is going to work. Ramsey County legislators are not going to want to be taxed for three stadiums, none of which are in their county. That is my feeling, but we'll see.

We'll see how this goes. Yesterday, Pogemiller drastically changed the Gopher's stadium bill. Hopefully he won't be able to do the same with the Twins stadium.

More later!

Posted by snackeru at April 26, 2006 10:36 PM | Stadiums 2006


Cool story. Thanks for linking to the video.

Posted by: Kurtis at April 27, 2006 8:37 AM

You know, Pogey's amendments to the Gophers stadium aren't too bad on their face, they make for a cleaner bill and he replaced dollar for dollar the naming rights fees and student fees he removed. The problem is that it is so radically different than the house bill it just causes it harder to get final approval.

Also Senator Pogemiller has stated he won't vote for a Twins bill without the referendum but if I understand it correctly, a metro-wide sales tax wouldn't require a referendum at all, unless of course he includes that as part of the bill I guess. Should be for an intereting day.

Posted by: freealonzo at April 27, 2006 8:56 AM

On the night of the Kirby Puckett memorial I ran into a leading DFL lobbyist who told me that Pogemiller was opposing the Gophers and TWINS stadiums because he didn't want PAWLENTY and the
GOP to get any credit for the Stadium !! A METRO

Posted by: jimj at April 27, 2006 11:40 AM

Just wanted to say that was a well-deserved story on WCCO. You've worked very hard on this for a long time and you deserve some credit for what has been accomplished.

By the way, did anyone ever tell you that you look a little like a young John Ritter?

Posted by: Jeff A at April 27, 2006 12:43 PM


I suspect uber bill rumors to be true. a .25% increase, in the 7 county metro for 3 stadia, transit, and roads.

politically pretty popular... would put t-paw in a bind, but i suspect he'd sign. I think the votes would be there in house and sen for it

Posted by: BT at April 27, 2006 1:23 PM

A young John Ritter???

"Not bad for a guy who works in a library over at the 'U'."

Ha! Congrats, Shane.

Posted by: spycake at April 27, 2006 2:10 PM

I know ... what exactly does that imply? Does it imply that a person working in a library at the U doesn't usually ever do anything worthwhile? I've had some angry comments about that one!

And Jeff, yes, I suppose I do look a little like John Ritter. Ha!

And BT, you really think the House would vote for a Metro-wide sales tax? I don't think there are enough votes to push that on all the counties. Combining it with transportation would be wise, but I still don't think it would do it.

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2006 2:16 PM

I think you may have a point... talking it over with others it seems like a very serious game of high stakes poker here... but it wouldnt surprise me.

my bet at this point might just be that the senate and house are far apart, but both pass bills. in conference my guess is it may fall back to something closer to the house bills for the twins and gophs.

but at this point i think we can put up a board of all the possible outcomes and begin throwing darts...

Posted by: BT at April 27, 2006 2:41 PM

Jason DeRusha wouldn't use my line:

"Not bad for a completely uncoordinated, gangly Swede"

Can't imagine why not...

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 27, 2006 2:45 PM

Anyone watching the Senate Tax hearing? Anything important or interesting happening?

Posted by: David H at April 27, 2006 3:26 PM

They have been talking about the Gophers stadium for the past hour and a half. One thing I did catch is that they want to use a memorabilia tax to make up the bulk of the lost funding Pogemiller and the Finance Committee took away yesterday. Pogemiller is really changing things around. Based on comments by Sviggum, I don't think the House appreciates it.

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2006 3:34 PM

eh... that's what conference committee is for... to un pogey the bill

Posted by: bt at April 27, 2006 3:41 PM

Someone please, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the committee just DEFEATED the Gophers stadium bill on a 6-6 vote. Not a good sign at all. They told Bruinicks that he should leave since they're not talking about it any more. They're currently doing a preliminary discussion on the Twins bill, but no testimony until at least tomorrow.

Posted by: AW at April 27, 2006 3:56 PM

Wow, I didn't hear that they defeated the Gophers stadium bill. That would be troublesome. I must admit that I am having trouble following the proceeds of this meeting. I'm going to need the help of the people watching it to keep us all informed!

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2006 4:07 PM

they didnt defeat it.

the gopher bill will make it out of committee.

btw... move belanger to a no on the referendum... and a no on the bill without it.

Posted by: BT at April 27, 2006 4:10 PM

Yeah, I was changing Belanger to no as you were typing your message! BT, how do you see the votes coming out since you've been watching?

Posted by: Shane at April 27, 2006 4:12 PM

I haven't been paying attention too well, but Pogemiller just said something to the effect that "we all know how the votes are going to go on the referendum issue" and reading between the lines, I assume he meant that the bill wouldn't make it out of committee without the referendum intact. I could be wrong--like I was about the Gophers bill being defeated! Could anyone enlighten me about what they actually voted on 6-6?

Posted by: AW at April 27, 2006 4:16 PM

pogey's bit about knowing how they are going to vote means that he knows the ref. bit will fail in committee again.

Posted by: BT at April 27, 2006 4:30 PM

According to the Star Tribune, the Gophers stadium WAS defeated 6-6 due to the Sports Memorabilia tax. However, they claim it is temporary. However, if it has actually been defeated, how can they revive it so easily?

Posted by: David H at April 27, 2006 5:21 PM

I would like to see the following amended to the bill to allow for greater protection of the taxpayers:

1. Don't exempt the state law requiring a referendum.

2. Infrastructure needs to be defined more clearly. There are things that are called infrastructure, which are really Ballpark.

3. Cost overruns for infrastructure need to be the responsibility of the Twins.

4. Since the taxpayers are paying 80% of the cost of the stadium, 80% of naming rights and personal seat liscences should go to the Hennepin County Taxpayers.

5. Major League Baseball - not just the twins, need to sign the 30 year guarentee of staying in the area.

Posted by: Eva Young at April 29, 2006 8:40 PM

Julianne Ortman is a yes? If Julianne Ortman votes yes, that means she is breaking her no new taxes pledge. (She signed that pledge).

Posted by: Eva Young at April 30, 2006 1:17 PM

Actually I really don't know. I must admit that Senators are absolutely impossible because I don't know what plan they are in favor (or not in favor) of. A workable stadium bill has never made it this far. Also, Tim Pawlenty signed a no new taxes pledge too. So, I wouldn't put too much faith in that. He has already said he would sign the Hennepin County plan into law.

Posted by: Shane at April 30, 2006 1:45 PM

Tim Pawlenty has broken his pledge many times - on the infamous health impact fee, and also with his support of raising taxes on Hennepin County residents. The Taxpayers League has held Tim Pawlenty's feet to the fire about the Health Impact Fee. Personally, I think it would be a nice touch to use the sports memorabilia "sports impact fee" - and ask the Governor to support it.

I don't think much of pledges - like the TL pledge - but think legislators who sign such pledges should keep their pledge, or be honest, and be public that they no longer plan to abide by the pledge.

I understand that now with Sue Jeffers raising this issue, Pawlenty might want to blame the DFL if the Hennepin County plan doesn't pass. The Stadium tax is VERY unpopular with Republican delegates - and is something that will make it harder for Pawlenty to get his base out.

In 2004, Strom from the Taxpayers League heard from Phil Krinkie that the Governor had made a deal to support TABOR if the TL backed off on the stadium. The Taxpayers League didn't do anything on the issue in 2004.

This is what I don't get about the plan. Under the proposal, the taxpayers are paying 80% of the costs. Then it would seem only fair that the taxpayers would get 80% of the Personal seat licenses, and naming rights.

Posted by: Eva Young at April 30, 2006 2:58 PM

Mee Moua said in committee that she's not going to support the Twins stadium plan without the metro sales tax which also includes transit - she wants something for her constituents from this thing.

Posted by: Eva Young at April 30, 2006 10:23 PM

"she wants something for her constituents from this thing."

Funny, I don't remember anything in the ballpark bill prohibiting Senators Moua's constituents from enjoying a game at the new ballpark or working there. I must have missed that one.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 1, 2006 7:29 AM

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