May 23, 2006
On second thought....

The session is over. Let the second guessing begin! Not that lawmakers didn't leave themselves some room for it. As they started traveling the state yesterday to take credit for what they did, others began taking issue with it.

Let's start with the Twins stadium. Lots of people seem happy that lawmakers have finally given Hennepin County the green light to build it. But as MPR's Tom Scheck reports, some people aren't:

During Minnesota Public Radio's Midday program on Monday, one long-time DFL voter in Hennepin County said she would vote for Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and even give him a campaign contribution if he vetoed the Twins bill. Another caller who identified himself as John, from Hennepin County, said he and his wife are longtime Republican donors. He says he won't vote for anyone who supported the stadium.

"Because this tax increase was shoved down our throats without a referendum, we will no longer support any politician who voted for that Twins stadium and that includes Gov. Pawlenty," he said.

Pawlenty may not be the only politician who could lose votes for supporting a Twins ballpark. DFL Sen. Steve Kelley's push to fund a Twins stadium could cost him the votes of party delegates in his quest to receive the DFL endorsement for governor. And any state lawmaker who represents Hennepin County could also face a backlash if they voted for the ballpark.

In the Strib Doug Grow sees a stadium gender gap.

Why do men and women see the deal so differently? Is it because as kids, we boys excluded the girls from our sunrise-to-sunset baseball games?

Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, didn't answer the questions directly. But she did say male domination set the legislative agenda -- yet again.

"This whole session was boys and toys," she said. "Kids and health, things that mature adults are concerned about, got shoved aside."

Some couldn't help but noting that amid all the squawking over the lack of a referendum for the stadium in Hennepin County, the one city that did hold a vote on expanding a sports facility didn't get any money. MPR's Bob Kelleher reported on the Duluth experience:

[Duluth Mayor] Herb Bergson places the lack of support at Gov. Pawlenty's feet. "Obviously I'm very disappointed," he says. "We had promises from the governor, and he didn't come through." The support, Bergson says, went instead to big stadium projects.

"I was singing the praises of the governor for pledging to us that this was going to happen, and it didn't," the mayor says. "They were doing cartwheels down there to see the Twins stadium and the Gopher stadium passed. They spent almost $800 million on those two projects, and they couldn't find $28 million for an expansion of the DECC in Duluth, and I'm gravely disappointed."

Pawlenty's spokesman says the governor did support the project, but the DFL-controlled Senate didn't.

And how about that proposed constitutional amendment that would have dedicated sales tax money to natural resources? The Pioneer Press does a post mortem, and it's amazing the patient lived as long as he did:

Several factors contributed to the defeat, observers say.

The Senate and House had vastly different views of how to pay for it. The Republican-controlled House insisted funding should come from the existing 6.5 percent sales tax; the DFL-controlled Senate preferred a tax increase.

Conferees couldn't agree whether to ask voters one question or two. Making the wrong choice and losing was considered by some worse than doing nothing.

Some Senate DFLers thought a big turnout of hunters and anglers for the amendment vote would help Republicans more than Democrats.

Questions about dedicating tax money for anything undermined support in both parties.

Without early agreement about how much money to seek and how to divide it, various groups were perceived to be competing against each other instead of cooperating.

Not to mention that the big rally in favor of the bill drew a smaller crowd this year than it did last year.

Posted by Mike Mulcahy at 7:07 AM