May 2, 2006

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants marched across the country yesterday to complain about the Senate Taxes Committee. No, not really. I just wanted to see if you're still paying attention. But lots of people are complaining about the Senate Taxes Committee. Especially people who work for the Minnesota Twins. Why? Because the committee has brought back that referendum. MPR's Tom Scheck had the story:

On a 12-0 vote, the committee voted to require voter approval of a Hennepin County sales tax that would finance three quarters of the cost of a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins and Hennepin County leaders say a referendum requirement is a stadium killer. They argue that it would add uncertainty to the process and delays that will increase construction costs.

While the vote is a setback for their efforts, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said he didn't think the committee's vote indicated that the tide was turning against their proposal.

"I don't know what tide is turning where here, I think it's more of a whirlpool going on in here. I wouldn't call it a tide," he said.

Is that whirlpool the stadium going down the drain? Who knows? The committee, chired by Minneapolis DFLer Larry Pogemiller meets again today. On the agenda, that plan to raise the metro area sales tax by half a percent to pay for stadiums and transportation.

And while the stadium made the front page again (at least in the Pioneer Press) the Legislature was actually getting some work done. The House unanimously passed that mercury reduction bill. The bill to ban protests at funerals went to the governor's desk. And the House passed its lone budget bill, one that spends more to keep sex offenders locked up, increases funding for veterans programs and sends some money to the U of M's Rochester facility.

Legislative leaders plan to meet today to talk about a target for the bonding bill, which would be the last piece that has to fall into place before the bonding conference committee can do its job. House Speaker Steve Sviggum said again on Midday yesterday that once there's an agreement on the bonding bill there's not much reason for legislators to stick around. Leaders of the Senate are scheduled to appear on Midday today.

It sure feels like the session could end rather quickly if the leaders reach an agreement, but as the past few years have shown that's not necessarily an easy thing.

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 7:09 AM