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May 9, 2006

On to the conference committee

• Let's try to keep a positive outlook on this: there are only three more steps until a new Twins ballpark is a reality:

  1. Conference committee hammers out a compromise that everyone can agree on (including the Governor)
  2. House and Senate both vote to pass the compromise
  3. Governor signs it into law

Believe it or not, we have never been this close. Both the Senate and the House have passed a Twins ballpark bill. That is seriously amazing.

• And when you think about it, the conference committee should favor the House version of the plan. The House plan had 39 Republicans and 37 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. That is an impressive bipartisan showing. The Senate version of the bill had 34 Democrats voting in favor, but ZERO Republicans. This lack of bipartisanship will weigh heavily on the conference committee. And if the committee decides on a compromise more in line with the House plan, there should be enough Democrats and Republicans on the Senate side that will vote to get this done.

We still need to help convince our representatives and senators, but things are still looking positive.

• From what I have heard, the conference committee will probably be made up of between 8-10 senators and representatives. The House appointees will probably be dominated by Republicans, with at least one Democrat that is a strong supporter of the House plan. The Senate appointees, however, will all be Democrats since only senators that voted for the bill are eligible for the committee. That should make things interesting, I would think.

• Today's events were exciting on a very shallow level, but they also raised a whole ton of questions. So many questions that freealonzo wrote me after the vote and spelled them out quite nicely:

Why did a majority of the Senate vote for a bill that they know is DOA with Guv and House? Is this a way to kill the stadiums while allowing Senators to say to their constituents that they passed a bill and was voted down by others? Or do they know that a workable bill will eventually be passed by the Conference Committee? Why so little debate? Why no debate on referendum? Why no amendments? It all seems so odd they had this huge complicated bill in front of them and it passed with barely an hour of discussion.

This is where the troublesome aspect of today's events come into play. Why was there no attempt to strip the referendum off the bill? Why was their so little discussion on such a complicated bill? It was almost anticlimactic.

There are, of course, some ideas I'm hearing that could answer some of these questions.

  1. Kelley knew he didn't have the votes in the Senate to get the House bill passed, so he stuck on transit and a referendum now in the hopes that he can pick up some votes after the confernece committee cleans the bill up.
  2. Kelley wanted to get his name in the paper a few times to jump start a struggling campaign for governor, but will most likely push the House version of the bill in the conference committee.
  3. Dean Johnson and Kelley both wanted the Senate to move quickly on the bill so they left transit and the referendum in knowing that, again, the conference committee will make the bill more acceptable to the House and the Governor.
  4. As commenter BT has written "the transit thing was a way of exorting more transit money out of the capitol bonding bill... not an effort to waylay the twins... i assure you on this." I like this thought. I could definitely see the House make this kind of compromise.
  5. And a more troubling possibility could be that Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley actually think they can get the Governor and the House to compromise on a metro-wide sales tax. If that is the case, give me some of what they are smoking. That is just plain nuts.

Whatever the case, it is very, very, very obvious that the Senate is putting a lot of faith in the ability of the conference committee to come up with a reasonable compromise. And by now we've all read what Dick Day had to say about that:

"There's a huge train wreck that's coming," said Senate Minority Leader Dick Day. "You're betting on a conference committee to solve it all."

This is not good to read. However, we also know that both Steve Kelley and Tim Pawlenty have said the Twins are their number one priority in the stadium sweepstakes. Let's keep the faith for now and hope Dean Johnson and Steve Kelley know what they are doing.

Posted by snackeru at May 9, 2006 9:03 PM | Stadiums 2006

Comments

After thinking about the bill today my hunch/hope is that we will end up with a .020 sales tax on henneping county with the profits going to the Twins Stadium (no roof/no ref.) and the other .005 going to transit. The Gophers' and Vikings' bills are scrapped and the Gophers' bill re-emerges by itself next week as TCF field at Vetran's Memorial Stadium. Republicans say they succeeded in keeping the Twins and Dems say they helped keep the Twins and also improved transit. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Posted by: Vince at May 9, 2006 10:13 PM

More questions:

How does the referendum work? Does it have to pass all 7 counties? at least 4 of the 7 counties? (which would be dumb) 50 percent+1 total votes? What if it doesn't pass in a county, is the tax then not imposed in there? When is the referendum?

These answers might be in the bill, but the fact that they weren't even discussed tells me that the referendum idea isn't long for this world.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 9, 2006 10:20 PM

I think the referendum is a total vote of the seven county metro. So if Yes gets 50.001% and No gets 49.999%, then it passes. Not positive, but I believe it's a overall total of all counties, not just Hennepin passes, Ramsey passes, Anoka fails, etc.

Posted by: ML at May 9, 2006 11:33 PM

It makes sense that the referendum be a 50%+1 vote. But what happens in this scenario (or one similar): One County votes for the sales tax increase by 10,000 votes while the other 6 counties vote no by 1500 votes. The sales tax still passes by 1000 votes but it is obvious it doesn't have close to region-wide support.

My point is that a multi-county referendum is a bad idea and I am surprised it didn't generate more discussion on Tuesday.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 10, 2006 8:05 AM

Is there any chance our good friend, Brad Finstad, will be in the committee?

Posted by: Orphan at May 10, 2006 8:32 AM

You can bet on the fact that Brad Finstad and Steve Kelley will be on the Conference Committee. Expect a total of 8, probably 10 total members.

Anyone else concerned with the the quip in today's Strib that Senator Johnson angerly blew off a hastily arranged meeting with T-Paw and Swiggum late yesterday?

Posted by: freealonzo at May 10, 2006 8:48 AM

Are the conference committee meetings closed to the public? I would love to be a fly on that wall. To think that we are so close to ending the scourge of contraction (for the Twins) and a move to LA (for the Vikings). What a happy day that would be!

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at May 10, 2006 9:01 AM

Conference Committees are typically open to the public. However, a lot of the work is done behind the scenes so to speak. So once they meet in Committee most of the nitty gritty negotiations have been done and the Committee is used for finalizing the deal.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 10, 2006 10:22 AM

I really think we should start demanding what MIKE HATCH thinks we should do if a stadium bill
isn't passed. Will he be willing to give CARL
POHLAD a free stadium if the TWINS announce they are going to leave ? There are a number of DFL
state Senators who are supporting HATCH who are
perfectly willing to give KELLEY all the rope
he needs to hang himself while MIKEY sits back and
take NO STAND on the stadiums!

Posted by: jimj at May 10, 2006 10:52 AM

Without getting into the details of the bill, it would seem to me that it was a positive that the senate at least did pass a bill, and passed it quickly. I understand the problems that people have pointed out with the senate version, but from what I've read (certainly not as much as many who comment here) there were likely to be significant differences between the senate and the house anyway. At least by passing something quickly, there is more time for the conference committee to try to work out some sort of compromise.

Posted by: Jeff A at May 10, 2006 12:33 PM

shane,

your assesment in as far as why kelley did what he did... three reasons

1. publicity

2. he really does think we should get it all done at once, and i think he was going with the idea that the public might hear of his plan and love it... they didnt

3. it was probably the only way he had the votes to pass it... Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul) was the deciding vote, and she supported it only because of transit.

you're right that they wanted to do this FAST to get it in to conference (where it was going to need work anyway) so they wouldnt have to rush it before the close of session.

Be optimistic fans... it's looking better than it ever has

Posted by: BT at May 10, 2006 1:43 PM

I agree with Jeff A. There would have been differences in the two bills anyway; just getting it to the committee quickly may be the best route. I would feel more confident if the referendum was off the table though.

As for Hatch, there is no reason he should take a stand right now. If all of the stadiums pass and are signed this session, the issues will no longer be something that a Governor has to concern himself or herself with. If the session ends and there are one or more stadiums unresolved it is fair to press him on his stance. As for now though, it may be a non-issue for him or any candidate. I would prefer to keep our AG's out of policy decisions and Guv candidates to stick to issues they may actually have to deal with.

Posted by: Ryan at May 10, 2006 1:59 PM

BT then your saying Kelley's motivation for abandoning a bill he supported for MORE THAN A YEAR is 90% politics,correct?
And Ryan while it may be good politics for you
(if you support him) and MIKE HATCH,the more PRESSURE that we apply to ALL candidates for GOVERNOR to take a stand on this, the better our
chances for a FAVORABLE(pro stadium) outcome on
this! Hey EVA YOUNG! What do you say about this?

Posted by: jimj at May 10, 2006 2:27 PM

There is no reason to beleive that a sitting Attorney General has (or should have for that matter) any influence on public policy regarding a sports stadium.

Yes Hatch's stance (or lack of) is political. As is everyone's stance.

I just think directing any focus on him is counterproductive- when we should be pressuring Kelley, Johnson and Pawlenty... three people who actually have a say in the outcome.

Focusing on Mike Hatch just sounds like a political move by some to protect their candidate who might have to make some tough decisions in the next couple weeks. I would love to see some Arnie Carlson style leadership from the Governor's office to get this stadium done. But sadly, the Senate DFL is not the only leadership void in St. Paul.

Posted by: Ryan at May 10, 2006 3:42 PM

Good points, Ryan. I suspect if there are still any stadium issues unresolved after this session (i.e. Vikings), we will eventually hear Hatch's stand. (And even T-Paw has been mighty sketchy on the Vikes this year) Otherwise it's a non-issue since the stadiums will already be approved.

Posted by: spycake at May 10, 2006 4:08 PM

Ryan,It is not "counterproductive" (what lingo some of you guys use !) to find out what the likely DFL candidate for governor MIKE HATCH has
to say on an issue he is expected to demonstrate LEADERSHIP on ! And what would you characterize as "Arne Carlson style leadership"?, Loading up a bonding bill with PORK to gather every stray vote
for a stadium bill,like Arne did with the Excell
Center ?

Posted by: jimj at May 10, 2006 4:24 PM


Doing what it takes to get a stadium built. Like Arne did- sure the method wasnt perfect, it never is. But where are the people that are up in arms about building the Xcel? Can't find many? That is because they are sitting in one of the most beautiful arenas in the country watching the Wild. The quality of life in the state is better and downtown St. Paul has life again. He wasnt popular at the time for it, but at least he made something happen.

In what way would Hatch show leadership on a twins stadium that is already being built?

Posted by: Ryan at May 10, 2006 6:12 PM

Are you delegates to the upcoming endorsing conventions? If you aren't - forget about pressuring DFL governor candidates - it's the delegates to that convention who they are listening to.

I know many legislators are tired of the stadium issue and are tired of the perception from the public that this is all they are doing down there.

Dianne Loefler (DFL, Minneapolis) told me that Johnson picks all the Senators on that committee and Sviggum will pick all the Republicans. I assume Finstad will be on that committee. Many urban democrats aren't going to want to vote for this without the transit component. (There's no way to justify a stadium only vote to their constituents).

The DFL just put out a press release taunting Sviggum for not appointing his conferees to the stadium committee.

And the circus continues.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 10, 2006 11:23 PM

I think the idea that Kelley did this because he didn't have the votes on the Senate floor for the Hennepin County plan is ridiculous.

Sure the transit picked him up some DFL votes, but that was all arranged by Johnson anyway. They were going to stick it to the GOP.

There's no question that the HC plan would have had 15-17 Republicans in favor of it, instead of ZERO, and could have withstood a lot of DFL'ers voting no

Posted by: David Howe at May 11, 2006 12:52 AM

I just noticed that Becky Lourey was one of the
three Dflers who voted against the stadium. So
now HATCH and his supporters have exactly what they want Kelley FOR , Lourey AGAINST and MIKEY
sitting in the fabulous middle with an UNDISCLOSED
position! Also Eva,I think you realize that HATCH
is vulnerable with his wishy washy stand on this.Are you afraid that if he was forced to
support it opposition to the Ballpark would collapse ? I find it amazing that their is no curiosity among the McClatchy-Knight-Ridder information monopoly,among DFLers in general and
frankly, pro stadium supporters about what the stand of the likely DFL candidate for govrnor is on this issue !

Posted by: jimj at May 11, 2006 10:59 AM

Jimj- Kelley and Lourey should take sides- it is their responsibility to make a decision on this since they are currently legislators. Hatch is not. The issue will be solved before he takes the oath of office. Should we press him on his stance on the Guthrie or the Xcel? My original point is that instead of worrying about the gubernatorial campaign- supporters of a stadium (and opponents for that matter) should focus on the people who will actually decide on this matter- CURRENT legislators and the Governor.

Posted by: Ryan at May 11, 2006 11:24 AM

Is there anything happening today?

Posted by: MOJO at May 11, 2006 12:59 PM

I think committee members are to be named. I heard Brad Finsted on WCCO last night. He said that he would be named, and that all house members will push for the house plan. He also said he expects Steve Kelley to be named on the Senate side- and that he thought there would be 10 members (5 house, 5 senate)

Interesting thought for the day: If Dick Day or any other Republican would have voted for the Senate bill, they could have pushed for a seat on the Committee. 5 house members plus one Senator who prefers the house bill could have changed the complexion of the Committee debate in the favor of the House version. Now we have a situation in which the Senate DFL can keep membership in line to force compromise.

Posted by: Ryan at May 11, 2006 1:18 PM

House has named their 5 conference committee members. They are as follows:
Finstad, Sykora, Lanning, Neil Peterson, and Kelliher. Senate hasn't named their members yet.

Posted by: ML at May 11, 2006 3:12 PM

That's not a bad list. There will be three Hennepin County house members who will be arguing for the Hennepin County bill.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 11, 2006 3:42 PM

I am getting tire of Senate playing around with stadium issue. It almost like to me that they dont want stadium bills to be pass. I will say to them stop playing game and get into business. Now I am fear that none of stadium will be build. Minnesota Twins more likey to be gone by 2007 if no ballpark is build. It will be all Senate fault for Twins ballpark bills to pass. I am very upset with Senate because they should accept the House bills. I think the house bills is wonderful. I pray GOD that Twins get new ballpark.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 11, 2006 4:39 PM

The Senate named its members. All we need is one of them to be in favor of the House plan. I'm pretty optimistic--there weren't any crazies, that I know of, put on the committee:
Kelly
Marko
Higgins (from Mpls)
Betzold (Vikes guy)
Rosen (we got a Republican!)

Posted by: Anonymous at May 11, 2006 9:21 PM

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