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May 18, 2006

Thursday Conference Committee Updates

OK! Here we go. I just tuned in and found that the conference committee is in recess right now. So, I have no idea what they have just talked about or what they are in recess for. I can imagine they are recessing to discuss a proposal, and I'm hoping that it is a proposal from the House to finally put this all behind us and move the original Hennepin County Twins bill to the floor of both the House and the Senate. When they resume the committee I will fill you in.

Before that, though, I just received an email from someone deep inside New Ballpark, Inc. who told me:

The word from the marble clad back hallway is that Kelley and Finstead have agreed to let the Twins bill out tonight. There may be some more theater but it is all moving in the right direction. We have one more set of hurdles to sweat the leadership in both houses may put ballparks at the very end of session which means they could fall victim to the clock running out.

Yes. That piece of information has both good and bad news. First the good news: it appears the Twins bill will finally be "let out tonight." However, the bad news that the Senate and the House still have a lot of big bills to work out, including the Omnibus Tax bill and the Omnibus Transportation bill, before the session ends. TIme could very well run out.

Anyway, more later. Stay tuned...

UPDATE I: I have just heard in an email that the Committee work may "spill into the morning." This is bad news as far as I am concerned. I want them to get this done tonight. We'll see. More coming...

UPDATE II: The committee is back. Kelley seems to be moving a proposal that suggests the transit stuff will move to the Transportation Committee, and it includes language that would give the Vikings the net proceeds of a sale of the Metrodome, except for $5 million that would go to Hennepin County. Kelley would also like some of the Twins bill to go to the State High School League.

Kelley is saying that the transit piece of the proposal could be discussed more tomorrow when they could be more assured the transit stuff could be taken up by the Transportation Committee. Kelley wants the Transportation Committee to feel some heat and give his transit requests a fair shake knowing that the Twins stadium legislation is waiting on them.

Kelley and Finstad are now saying that they could meet tomorrow at 9:00 and "move expeditiously" once Kelley can be assured the Transportation Committee is heeding his request. Kelley is saying that he doesn't think the meeting would last more than an hour tomorrow. Kelley, quite frankly, is driving me nuts.

UPDATE II: Lanning is saying that he is very happy that the Senate wants to move the transit piece to a more appropriate committee. And I gotta voice some frustration here: how can Kelley hold this conference committee hostage like this? It is crazy. I can't believe they are going to let this go on another day! Argh!!!

UPDATE III: The Star Tribune is reporting:

The state Constitution prohibits passing of bills on the last day of a session, which is Monday; that day can be used for ceremonial activities. That gives the Legislature an absolute effective deadline of midnight Sunday.

But convening floor sessions on Sunday is considered bad form and is apparently unprecedented, and Johnson and House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, have set a deadline of 7 o'clock Sunday morning.

Wow. The House and the Senate could seriously be working late into Saturday night. In fact, I think it is a given.

UPDATE IV: Finstad is a little frustrated right now. It sounds like he is frustrated that Kelley has bumped the transit piece back up to a tax of .5% (from .25%) and he is frustrated that we seem to have to wait until the Transportation Committee takes up Kelley's proposal tomorrow before the Twins bill can be moved on alone. He is saying he longs for the day when a face to face conversation and a handshake is all you need to make this kind of deal "in this place." I agree. Kelley is holding things up for very suspect reasons, especially considering (and according to Kelley) that his Senate colleagues have the gavel in tomorrow's Transportation Committee! Finstad has moved that the commitee recesses until 11:00 so that the House can discuss Kelley's proposal in full.

I'm sorry if my updates don't make a whole lot of sense right now, but I must admit that I don't fully understand the logistics of this potential handoff between the Stadium Conference Committee and the Transportation Conference Committee. But again, why is Kelley so concerned about this handoff? Transportation should have never been a part of the Twins stadium conference committee in the first place. Man! If time runs out and the Twins are left hanging again, I will put the blame squarely on Kelley's shoulders. Time is running out Senator! Stop messing around!

UPDATE V: We're back. The House has discussed the issue. Finstad wants to split the transit stuff off and let the Twins bill stand on its own. Duh. Kelley is saying that the committee will meet again at 9:00 tomorrow morning, the same time the Transportation Committee is meeting. The committee will also hear reports concerning some questions that Rep. Peterson was asking about funding for libraries (and education?), and youth sports that the Senate wants to put in the Twins bill.

Well, the meeting has adjourned. Before it ended Kelley said, "Tomorrow we'll try to get as far as we can." That just plain ticks me off. Senator, don't get as far as you can! Get the job done!

I will be in a meeting tomorrow at 9:00 at work, so I will not be watching this fiasco anymore (unless it carries on until tomorrow night ... I seriously can't bear the thought!). Please leave me some comments and let me know what is happening if you are watching it. See you tomorrow.

Posted by snackeru at May 18, 2006 9:32 PM | Stadiums 2006


Shane........what is your projected timeline of what will happen over the next 3 days?

Posted by: MOJO at May 18, 2006 10:27 PM

MOJO, I just have no idea at this point! I thought they would have an agreement tonight, and now we are talking about not having an agreement until tomorrow morning. That probably means that there won't be a vote in the Senate or the House until Saturday. But I just don't know. If it does wait until Saturday, that means it will compete with the Tax bill and the Bonding bill, not to mention the other biggies. What a fricken mess! Man am I getting ticked...

Posted by: Shane at May 18, 2006 10:37 PM

Our trusty MN legislature screwing around again??? Say it aint so Joe!!!!!

Posted by: kevin in az at May 18, 2006 10:39 PM

aaaaarrrrrghhh!!! Why does it have to be so hard?

Posted by: Boof at May 18, 2006 10:48 PM

I'm off to Milwaukee at 2 tomorrow for the weekend series. There better be an agreement when I get back or I'm going to blow my top.

I'm holding Kelley 100% responsible if this thing doesn't get passed because he's the one that spent 3 days on the Vikings and then has delayed it even further on his transportation issues. The reason we didn't get anywhere tonight is because Kelley doesn't want the Stadium Conference Committee (SCC) to come to an agreement and adjourn before Transportation discusses the transit part of the Stadium bill. He thinks that if SCC adjourns then Transportation will think that since SCC adjourned without touching transit, then they don't have to touch it either. By holding off until tomorrow, he can make sure that transit gets considered and he can hold up this thing even more if they don't discuss to his liking.

Kelley's transit portion is key to his running for Governor and if he can't get anything out of this session he's not going to be able to say, "See, I got this 'amazing' transit deal for the citizens of MN. Vote for me." By holding up the Twins he may screw his candidacy even more.

A frustrated Twins fan hoping for some actual progress tomorrow/today.

Posted by: ML at May 19, 2006 12:12 AM

Wow! This is shaping up more and more like the fiasco earlier this month at the Florida state legislature. There, there was a proposal to attach a sales tax rebate for the Florida Marlins that would, theoretically, help finance a new stadium, to a bill for new spring training facilities that was previously passed in the House. The amendment was added on during final two weeks, forcing the state Senate in Florida to consider it. It has been the Senate President who had resisted giving this rebate to the Marlins. Last year, there was a similar proposal but was not voted on, so according to their rules the Senate had to had a floor vote during this year's session. So, on the last week of the session, the thinking goes, several Senators who were always opposed engaged in some delay tactics. First, one opposition Senator stripped the Marlins language out of the bill in a procedure, leaving mainly the language about the spring training facilities and few amendments that still changed the bill, after which the whole bill was voted on and sent back to the House, which then voted to pass it. The same procedure resulted in the Marlins amendment becoming part of another bill. That bill wasn't considered until the very last day of the session, and that was because they were required to vote on it. It was left until almost midnight, the deadline of the session, until the Marlins bill was debated, voted on and approved. Then, it had to go to the House, where the Speaker refused to consider it because the clock struck on the hour and it was too late.

I can see how you folks in MN think something similar is happening with your government. However, if your governor truly believes that a Twins bill has to be voted on in both chambers, I would think he'll find a way to twist some arms, unless no one has no control over Sen. Kelley. If nothing happens by Friday afternoon, then it's not going to happen, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Transic at May 19, 2006 1:41 AM

"...I would think he'll find a way to twist some arms, unless no one has no control over Sen. Kelley."

Oops! That should read, "I would think he (the governor) would find a way to twist some arms, unless no one truly has ANY control over Sen. Kelley."

I'm not a fan of double negatives. Sorry. :o

Posted by: Transic at May 19, 2006 1:45 AM

Why should we be suprised? This is not the most dysfunctional legislative body in America for nothing.

What happened to the Marlins sucked, but that was intentional on the part of the Senate President of Florida. They had 'passed' on voting on the resoltion earlier, which according to the constitution meant that they had to vote on it before they adjourned. The Senate President was opposed, so he didn't let them vote on it until it would be too late for the House to act. They don't use conference committees as much and just run bills back and forth between chambers. This would seem inefficent, but after seeing this conference committee work, how could it be any worse?

Of course they will not vote on stadiums until the last item to show they have 'priorities' and that means they'll run out of time. So its probably either a special session or nothing. Ugh.

Posted by: David Howe at May 19, 2006 3:01 AM

I heard another stumbling block was an ammendment to have only Minnesota beer served at the new ballpark (Hey, why not? There already is an ammendment making sure Minnesota made steel is used in construction).

Posted by: Jiminstpaul at May 19, 2006 5:17 AM

WTF? Is Kelley going to blow this whole thing?

How can a bill that had Bipartisan support in the House get so slowed down and still be tangled in with seperate issues this late in the game? If this thing fails all of the legislators will look foolish....with Kelley being the main person to blame.

Posted by: Adam at May 19, 2006 8:13 AM

The St. Paul Pioneer Press article is much more positive. It also gives some good info on the details of the bill.

Shane, don't fret, this always happens at the end of a session. That's why they call it crunch time. A ballpark bill might not get done until the wee hours of Sunday, but it will get done.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 19, 2006 8:18 AM

Anyone watching the hearing? If so, please let us know what is happening.

Posted by: David H at May 19, 2006 9:09 AM

Just remember this, if Kelley gets the transit done along with the Twins stadium, he is a hero.

Posted by: SBG at May 19, 2006 10:02 AM

I just caught the end of the session, and they took a vote on some motion which I can only assume is to adopt the language presented by the Senate this morning which was basically the House bill. So I *think* it's through for final passage by the House and Senate! Kelly decided to recess the meeting rather than adjourn to leave open the possibility of reconvening if there were any questions about the final language of the bill. But for now, things look very good! Finstad was very happy at the end of the meeting.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 19, 2006 10:24 AM

It appears to me that an agreement has been reached on an open air Twins Stadium.

Channel 17 is replaying the vote right now

Posted by: zooom at May 19, 2006 10:32 AM

For you Gopher Stadium rubes out there the conference committee also met this morning. Pogey droped the sports merchandise tax, the conference committee rejected the senate provisions on barring TCF from having its name on the stadium and rejected barring student fees from helping to pay for the stadium. I think the land swap deal has been approved too, but I missed that vote. Ron Abrams stated they might be willing to increase the state $$$ amount in order to reduce student fees. They come back later in the afternoon but it looks like a gophers stadium is on its way too.

Posted by: freealonzo at May 19, 2006 10:34 AM

I know the stadium bill needs to be voted on by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor. I know nothing is 100%, yet if anyone heard a celebratory scream travel down I-94 from the beautiful city of Alexandria... I admit it... it was me. I don't want to celebrate too soon, but I cannot help it. I must believe that with Kelley finally giving in, there will be no further obstacles to this bill. At risk of jinxing everything... I must congratulate Shane and everyone else who has fought for this stadium. I truly believe that only the groundwell of support fostered by sights like this, finally turned the tide and convinced the politicians to finally let this happen.

Now the hard part, waiting for opening day. Shane... I must buy you a beverage. I am sure I will not be the first!! Thanks for your part in making this happen!

Posted by: zooom at May 19, 2006 11:28 AM

oopss.. "groundwell... sights??" not an english major and too damned excited!!

Posted by: zooom at May 19, 2006 11:30 AM

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