< Time for Finstad to drop the hammer | Main | We're almost there >

May 17, 2006

Conference Committee Updates

UPDATE I: Well, finally the discussion has begun to separate the Vikings bill from the Twins bill. Finstad is coming on strong saying "Let's call a spade a spade, the Vikings need to be attached to the Twins bill in order to be successful." No one seems to be disagreeing. Neil Peterson is making some hilarious analogies between the Twins/Vikings bills and the conjoined twins that were recently separated in Rochester. "In order for them both to survive, we need to separate them."

It appears the Vikings have a plan that they are comfortable with proceeding on but they, and Anoka County, are adamant that the Vikings and Twins move together. Dave Johnson, an Anoka County official, even seems to be threatening a lawsuit if the bills are separated. Wow. More coming...

UPDATE II: Lanning is arguing convincingly that the Vikings bill has not been "aired" properly in the House. He is also saying that the Twins bill was only passed 76-55. Good call. It would not take much to lose enough votes where nothing gets done. Lanning wants to separate the bills.

Kelley has argued before that the costs keep on rising and that now is the time to build a Vikings stadium. Can the Vikings bill pass the House on its own?

Dave Johnson is now arguing that Anoka County may not want to play this game anymore if it takes another year. That is a load of crap. Too much has been invested to give up now and Zygi has bought up too much land. Anoka County will be back.

UPDATE III: Kelliher is grilling Bagley concerning the proceeds from the sale and demolition of the Metrodome and whether or not the entire proceeds of that sale will go to the Anoka County Vikings proposal. Bagley is conceding that yes, the proceeds of the sale would go to that project.

I'm not sure I have a problem with this. The Twins don't have it in their proposal, and the Gophers certainly don't. Kelliher seems to be upset that the money will go to Anoka County when the stadium sat in Minneapolis and Hennepin County. It is an interesting debate, and it seems this would be a sticking point against the Vikings current proposal. More legislators in the House may not like this. Kelliher wants an "equitable" distribution of the funds.

UPDATE IV: Recess until 9:00 (probably 9:15 or 9:20 knowing how the legislature works), but it appears Finstad is going to come back with a proposal. My guess it will be to separate the bills. I know, quite a stretch on my part, but the other details of the plan should be interesting. More later...

UPDATE V: You know I honestly wonder what the other Senate conferees think about all of this. Since I've been watching they have been very quiet. Do they agree with Kelley? Or do they also think the bills should be separated?

UPDATE VI: Proposal time. Finstad says the 18% selling fee has been removed, and the MLB guarantee that the team stays in Minnesota is gone. The bill is back to almost its original form when the legislative session first started. The Vikings are gone from the proposal but Finstad is saying that the House will consider them in a separate bill. Finstad moves the proposal. Question time.

Kelley seems ticked. It appears that he can barely contain his anger. Finstad is saying, "This is the original bill. This gets a ballpark built for the Minnesota Twins."

Sen. Marko is saying that the Senate bill builds two stadiums for less and at a decreased cost to the taxpayer. Ugh. Marko and the Senate need to understand that their proposal doesn't build a ballpark or a Vikings stadium. Pawlenty will never sign it! The House will never approve it! I can't believe we are still arguing this!

UPDATE VII: Kelley and Marko are now really pushing the transportation add on to the Twins bill. Lanning is making a strong argument that the Transportation Omnibus bill conference committee is the most appropriate place to discuss transportation. Amen.

UPDATE VIII: Kelley is recessing for 10 minutes as the Senate conferees meet in one place and the House conferees meet in another. This may be it. If the rest of the Senate conferees can override Kelley and Marko, we may be done with this and back on the House and Senate floors.

UPDATE IX: Kelley is now handing out the Senate proposal. Argh!!!!! I thought this might be coming to an end! Unfortunately I have no idea how these things work. Kelley is proposing the Twins/HC financing, but adding language for libraries and youth sports. No roof and no referendum. Plus, the Vikings bill as it was suggested tonight with no referendum and a .25% tax for the 7 counties. 2 stadiums. We'll see what the House conferees think...

The original .5% tax has been reduced to .25%. This bill will raise $4.2 billion, a far cry from the original $12 billion. And only the county governments themselves would have to approve the tax. Kelley seems to think this is a big concession to the House. Marko is claiming that the governor would be amenable to this proposal if local county governments would approve it. Sykora is asking do all counties have to approve it? If only three approve it, does that scrap everything? Kelley responds that the Vikings and Twins would go forward, but the transportation portion would not.

What the heck?!?!? I suppose that would mean if Anoka County government and Hennepin County government approved, the two stadiums would be built. I am quite surprised by this, truth be told. It sounds interesting, but again, would the governor approve? Anyone got any thoughts?

They are in recess again until 10:20. I must say, this proposal sounds very interesting...

UPDATE X: OK, I've thought about it some more. The problem with this new Senate proposal is still that the Vikings side of things is a little shaky. It is better than it was yesterday, but will the House go for a bill that includes a Vikings stadium proposal that they really haven't aired out? That remains to be seen. Knocking the bill down to $4.2 billion and still including transit, plus leaving it up to county governments ... that is very interesting. I expect that Finstad and the House conferees have been in conversation with the Governor and Sviggum. It will be very interesting to see what they say. I agree with ryanlee_wags, if Kelley can pull this off ... wow. That would be impressive.

UPDATE XI: New House proposal. Twins bill stays relatively the same, but now it includes the Vikings proposal but separates it from the Twins and creates a new bill. It all but guarantees that the House will give the Vikings an up or down vote by the end of the session (am I right about that?). No transit. Finstad appreciates the Senate's recent move "in the right direction" but feels the transit debate should happen in the Transportation Conference Committee. So, I would guess the Governor and Sviggum had said, "No way."

Interesting ... there is discussion that the Vikings proposal could be attached to an existing bill so that it could be on the floor sooner. It sounds like Finstad has spoken with both Sviggum and Entenza who have both said that the House would not oppose attaching the Vikings proposal to another bill and voting on it. This is a move in the right direction. Kelley has recessed again for 15 minutes (yeah right) so the Senate can discuss it.

Kelley also wanted to wait to sign off on the Twins bill until the committee finds out what the fate of the Vikings is. In other words, if the Vikings proposal (and the bill it is attached to) fails, he wants to have an opportunity to re-evaluate the Twins side of things again (probably to try to again attach the Vikings to it). Finstad did not seem to pleased with this idea. Finstad and Sykora both said they can't guarantee that a Vikings bill would pass because the House has not ever voted on one. I don't think Kelley's proposal in this regard will fly.

UPDATE XII: Senate proposal. Then they'll take questions and adjourn. It looks like Kelley is going to still push for transit. Twins propsal as is, plus some form of transit funding. The Vikings have been removed. Language in the bill would suggest that the Vikings would be handled next year.

The meeting is adjourned. It sounds like the House will be given a chance to mull this over and that they'll meet again tomorrow (time unknown). I wish they would have gotten into the specifics of what the transit funding will look like, but I guess we'll have to find that out in the Strib or PiPress. And with that, I leave you for tonight. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you tomorrow!

Posted by snackeru at May 17, 2006 8:02 PM | Stadiums 2006


Twins need a retractable roof stadium

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 8:26 PM

No new stadiums with roofs = No Minnesota SuperBowls = No World Series = No Major League/ProSports = a Cold Omaha

We'll have to move to Las Vegas to see our teams play !

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 8:35 PM

If you want to see ballpark cost overruns, if you want to see a ballpark shoehorned into a tight space, if you want to see a ballpark that has weird design and ugly mechanical features, then you want a roof.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 17, 2006 8:56 PM

Just a minute -- OK -- Anti-Moron Gear is on


Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 9:23 PM

Agreed. They can't keep a World Series away because we don't have a roof. Bring on the first World Series snow delay. But we're Minnesotans, we can take it.

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 9:25 PM

We had a world series without a roof and had it not been for Sandy Koufax, maybe even a world series win without a roof.

Gardy is a far bigger impediment to success than not having a roof.

Posted by: J. Lichty at May 17, 2006 9:42 PM

Gardy isn't a problem. It's idiots like Lohse who are a problem. We don't have any pitching right now and even tonight when Santana struck out 12, we don't get any hitting.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 9:55 PM

Gardy isn't a problem.

Oh, I must be wrong then.

Posted by: J. Lichty at May 17, 2006 9:56 PM

Why do you think Gardy's a problem?

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 10:09 PM

Ok, I have to admit, I tend to vote DFL.

Now that I have that out of the way, I actually like the Senate's new proposal. It will pass the senate as is. I think Pawlenty will have a tough time vetoing it. The house may loose a couple anti-tax supporters, but would pick up some pro-transit DFLers.

I think the house may come back with a compromise, twins bill + transit component with a promise to look at the vikings.

After spending over a week ripping Steve Kelley, I might be turning the corner. If he somehow pulls off Twins, Vikings and Transit- I will give him his due credit.

Posted by: Ryan at May 17, 2006 10:23 PM

Am I misunderstanding this? Wasn't the Senate's offer to split this into 3 seperate bills? If so, it doesn't matter if the House is agreeing to the Vikings and Transit parts?

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 10:35 PM

I certainly could be wrong, David, but if they were splitting up the bill into 3 then the House wouldn't be meeting so long. The conference commitee would only need to agree on the Twins portion and we'd be done. I think the Senate is still proposing the big bloated one, although now it is less bloated.

Posted by: Shane at May 17, 2006 10:39 PM

Why do you think Gardy's a problem?

I don't want to hijack this thread, but I believe that he does not put the best lineup on the field, has an obsession with veteran players who "battle their tails off", he has lost the sound fundamentals that were the trademark of the TK era, he tries to play small ball and gives up too many outs doing so, he does not understand favorable matchups/platoons, he leaves his starters in too long so they can get the W but too often end up taking the L because if it, Juan Castro and Nick Punto over Jason Bartlett, refused to platoon Jaques Jones, calls his younger players out in the press, manages too much with his gut, Tony F-in Batista, refuses to use his best reliever except in "save" situations. I could go on, but we've got a stadium or two or three to get tonite and the Gardy discussion can wait until Shane no longer has stadia to blog about.

Posted by: J. Lichty at May 17, 2006 10:41 PM

If the Twins and Vikings are not being funded by the metro-wide tax, but instead by the respective counties, what is the point of them being in the same bill?

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 10:43 PM

Okay, cool. Understand your reasoning J. Lichty. Here's hoping that whoever's managing this team in a few years is doing it in a new downtown MPLS ballpark.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 17, 2006 10:45 PM

Thanks for the update, Shane. I understand that Margaret Anderson Kelliher had demonstrators outside her home yesterday in opposition to the Stadium boondoggle - and the demonstrators passed out literature in her neighborhood.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 17, 2006 10:46 PM

If they can pull it off it would be a major coup for Senator Kelley.

What about Hennepin County, Can Opat keep his 4 votes in line with a .25 tax increase?

Finally can anyone tell via the webcast who's in the room waiting and who's outside? Is that Senator Kelley in the white shirt?

Posted by: freealonzo at May 17, 2006 10:46 PM

So when does this thing fire back up again? Or are they gonna have a slumber party?

Posted by: Boof at May 17, 2006 10:47 PM

If the Vikings aren't attached to this bill, a separate bill would need to make it through the House and Senate in three days. That just ain't gonna happen. So, by keeping them on this bill, Kelley is skipping all the usual House and Senate committees, and even a possible needed conference committee, and just getting it done. The big question is, would the House go for this? Or would they kill this bill because they haven't had a chance to really scrutinize the Vikings? Unfortunately, killing this bill would also mean killing the Twins. That is why Finstad wants them separated.

Posted by: Shane at May 17, 2006 10:48 PM

Who knows, Boof. "Legislator time" is quite different than our own concept of time.

And yes, I think Kelley is in the white shirt standing up right now.

Posted by: Shane at May 17, 2006 10:52 PM

One other clarification. Is the sales tax only levied in those counties that passes it? If only the Anoka County and Hennepin County Boards approve the sales tax, does it generate enough funds for stadiums? I am guessing yes, since Hennepin County was going to do it for .15%. What happens if say Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey and Washington Boards approve it? Do those other counties get transportation $$$ It seems too confusing, I bet the house and Gov come back with a no on this deal.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 17, 2006 10:54 PM

Did anyone catch what Senator Kelley was asking for with regards to 'keeping the file open'...does that mean if the House didn't pass both bills they both fail?

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 11:13 PM

So when they go to recess and start thier proposal do they get input from pawlenty to see if he would veto anything?

Posted by: Boof at May 17, 2006 11:16 PM

Boof, yes, I think that is accurate.

And Dave H., I tried to answer your question in the post.

Posted by: Shane at May 17, 2006 11:18 PM

Thanks for all the updates!
My reload button is sure getting a workout.

Posted by: Andrew at May 17, 2006 11:21 PM

Thanks for the clarification on that. I try to work while I watch this, otherwise it's to aggrivating, but you miss things that way. It doesn't do much good to seperate them if he's going to put them back together if it doesn't go his way. That doesn't seem like it should even be allowed. Once they vote these out of this committee that should be the end of it.

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 11:22 PM

Recent developments and random thoughts:

1) Steve Kelley is making up his own legislative rules. It's an impressive move. Someone needs to keep watching past midnight because there is a chance he could declare himself as Emperor.

2) Speaking of the time, can anyone else see Kelley calling recesses for half the night until it's 4:30am and the rest of the conferees are ready to vote for anything so they can go home?

3) If they made a movie of this hearing, it would be called "Lazy, Indolent Knights of the Round Table."

4) That's an impressive suit on Rep. Lanning.

5) No man looks good in a bow tie. George Will is a possible exception. So is Garrison Keillor. Neil Peterson is not.

Posted by: Jon at May 17, 2006 11:22 PM

Senator Kelley seems to have spent too much time with Senator Pogemiller lately.

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 11:24 PM

What channel are you watching this on?

Posted by: MOJO at May 17, 2006 11:24 PM

No channel. Legislative TV on the web:


Click on the Senate webcast.

Posted by: Shane at May 17, 2006 11:36 PM

The updates are great! Thank you so much! They have had tv coverage of the supplemental budget bill. So, your blog is great.

Pioneer Press is reporting that the Gopher conference committee has removed the statewide tax, which was the biggest sticking point.

Posted by: Derek at May 17, 2006 11:42 PM

So the Vikings is dead. But what is the deal with the Senate's transit proposal. Are the two linked or seperate bills?

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 11:47 PM

I agree I wish there was more info in the transit proposal. But we are 95% there! Vikings separated, Hennepin County plan for the Twins. Let's hope the transit funding isn't a poison pill!!!!

Posted by: freealonzo at May 17, 2006 11:51 PM

Does anyone know the rules once they actually vote? Is it just a majority, 6 out of 10? Or do 3 from each body have to be in favor? If not I'd think the House + Senator Rosen could just pass the House version?

Posted by: David Howe at May 17, 2006 11:53 PM

Freealonzo, if you want this bill to get through the senate, the Transit funding will be a net plus, not a poison pill.

Is the tax going to be Hennepin County only - or metro?

Also, unfortunately, it seems that municipal exemption from the sales tax increase is gone from the bill - that's a bad idea - because this is a hidden property tax increase.

I'd think Hennepin County car dealerships should oppose this - because this will put them at a competitive disadvantage to dealerships in surrounding counties.

It really says something about warped priorities, when people think that a handout to Carl Pohlad should supercede libraries, police, transit, schools and other legitimate functions of government.

Posted by: Eva Young at May 17, 2006 11:58 PM

This does not supersede any of the items you mention.

Posted by: David Howe at May 18, 2006 12:05 AM

Eva, if I remember correctly the sales tax doesn't apply to auto purchase or leases. But if it did and you purchased a $30,000 car, the sales tax would cost you an extra $45.00. Not a whole lot and if you were a savvy buyer you would ask the dealer to dock $45 off the car price or you would go to a dealer in say Dakota County.

Also the transit tax could be a poison pill if it can't get past the House or Guv. The Hennepin County would pass the whole Senate, it just wouldn't get a lot of Mpls or Henn Co. delegation votes.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 18, 2006 7:26 AM

eXTReMe Tracker
View My Stats