The big question heading into this week is whether the 2012 legislative session is running off the rails.
On Friday, Gov. Dayton vetoed the civil lawsuit bills pushed by Republicans. Dayton said it was "laughable" that they were characterized as job creation bills.
The move comes just weeks after Senate Republicans effectively fired one of Dayton's political appointees.
And it doesn't appear that either side is willing to back down on the rhetoric.
Gov. Dayton is scheduled to give his State of the State speech on Wednesday and it doesn't look the GOP-controlled Legislature is willing to give up the entire news cycle to Dayton's agenda.
A committee in the Minnesota House will hold a hearing on the release of a committed sex offender. A committee in the Minnesota Senate will hold a hearing on that same day on a proposed constitutional amendment that would require people to provide photo identification to vote.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said on Friday that "it's time to put the spears down." The comments come less than two weeks after the Senate speared PUC Chair Ellen Anderson, one of Dayton's political appointees.
Stay tuned but the rhetoric makes it look like everyone has their eyes more on November.
January tax collections are below forecast. The next budget forecast is scheduled for Feb. 29.
Forum Communications says the GOP is looking at amending the constitution to enact some of their pet policy dreams.
The Pi Press takes a look at the GOP effort to cut the statewide business property tax.
Two St. Cloud area lawmakers told the St. Cloud Times that they regret their votes to eliminate the Market Value Homestead credit.
Under the Dome
MPR says Republicans are increasing their scrutiny on the release of a committed sex offender. Three judges approved the release.
A Ramsey County judge outlined the conditions of the release.
Dayton told a group of faith leaders that social equity is still a priority.
MinnPost says the members of the LCCMR asserted their independence after House GOP members attempted to fire the group's executive director.
The panel will focus on invasive species.
AP says the State Capitol is in urgent need of repair but budget pressures could put funding in jeopardy.
St. Paul dropped its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and go to trial against a group of landlords that sued the city over its aggressive housing code enforcement.
Students held a Saturday rally to call for stronger protections against bullying.
Ramsey County rebooted its plan for a new stadium.
The Vikings said no to the new Ramsey County plan.
The Pioneer Press says charities worry electronic pull-tabs for a Vikings stadium could be a loser for them.
President Obama is scheduled to release his budget plan today. The New York Times says he's betting that higher taxes on top earners and spending on manufacturing and infrastructure will trump concerns over the deficit.
Weekend talks to extend the payroll tax cut have failed.
Obama revised his birth control policy for religious institutions. He said the new plan meets his needs.
Bishops rejected the plan.
Minnesota groups watch and wait on the compromise.
Top Republicans still want a vote on the requirement.
The New York Times visits Lindstrom, MN and finds that even critics of the safety net are dependant on it.
The Obama Administration is slowing some environmental rules as it considers the political impact.
Minnesota joins a federal program on immigration reform.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum says she wants companies to consider bills paid once the bills are postmarked.
McCollum says she was called a "terrorist supporter" for not backing legislation that would end all U.S. contracts with Pakistan.
DFL Sen. Al Franken keynoted a California Democratic convention.
GOP Rep. John Kline opposes the No Child Behind waiver.
Race for Congress
MPR says super PACs are preparing an onslaught in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. Supporters and opponents of GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack are ramping up for this year's election.
Sara Severs, the official spokesman for DFL Rep. Tim Walz, will manage his campaign.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann is fundraising off Howard Stern's comments that she's the "worst person in the world."
Politico called Bachmann a "winner" at CPAC.
Race for President
The Obama campaign has created a rapid response "truth team."
Ron Paul is not conceding in Maine.
There are also questions as to whether Romney overstated his role in turning around the Olympics in 2002.
Santorum is defending his views on working women.
Newt Gingrich is focusing on donors to help keep his campaign alive.
Santorum hired Alice Stewart, Bachmann's former campaign spokesman.
Posted at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2012
by Tim Nelson
Filed under: Vikings stadium
This is a big week for the Vikings. According to NFL bylaws they have to tell the league whether they're staying in Minnesota or going somewhere else for 2012 by Wednesday.
Here's the relevant passage from the NFL Franchise Relocation Policy:
The club must give the Commissioner written notice of the proposed transfer, including the date on which the proposed relocation is to become effective, and publish the notice in newspapers of general circulation within the incumbent community. The notice must be filed no later than February 15 of the year in which the move is scheduled to occur. The League will provide copies of the notice to governmental and business representatives of both the incumbent community and the community to which the team proposes to move, as well as the stadium authority (if any) in the incumbent community (the "interested parties")
You can read the whole policy at the end of this post.
But technically, that's just among friends. The league makes the rules, and arguably can break the rules if they're of a mind to do so.
Still, if you're going to leave, that presumes you have a location to move to. And if the Vikings are in fact thinking about eventually kicking off in Los Angeles, they'll have to play somewhere else while Farmers Field or the City of Industry stadiums get built.
Here's what Coliseum general manager John Sandbrook had to say today, when asked if the Vikings had talked to the Coliseum's governing board about playing there in 2012:
That said, there is an interesting passage in the prospective new lease agreement with the University of Southern California:
USC will cooperate with a request by the City, County or State for use of the Coliseum on a temporary basis (up to 4 years) by not more than one NFL team. USC will negotiate in good faith with the NFL to structure a sublease at fair market value; provided that USC will not incur any additional expense or liability and will be indemnified by such NFL team against liabilities resulting from such sublease
That's part of a renegotiated lease between the Coliseum Commission and USC, scheduled to be approved this spring.
But it seems unlikely that the Vikings could go from not talking at all to the Coliseum and telling the NFL they'll kick off there in August in any reasonably short time frame.
Which leaves us with the Rose Bowl, which hasn't seen a Minnesota football team since 1977. That stadium actually hosted five Super Bowl games, the last in 1993. So it can handle an NFL crowd.
But general manager Darryl Dunn has some caveats to add to that. Asked if the stadium is NFL ready, he said in an interview today that "what we would have to do is do an environmental impact report. That would take at least eight months... The earliest an NFL team could play here is 2013."
Add to that the fact that the Rose Bowl is currently undergoing a $154 million renovation. That isn't scheduled for completion until 2014. The project calls for construction to accommodate UCLA games, but it's unclear if they could make way for 10 other home games, as well.
And then there's the NFL notice issue. Here's what Dunn had to say about the NFL playing at the Rose Bowl:
"We have not talked to any teams at all. There's been zero."
The Vikings have hinted that there are "other communities" that have expressed an interest in hosting the team if they decide to decamp from Minnesota. There's always the Alamodome in San Antonio and Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
But in the meantime, it doesn't look like the Vikings will be going to LA, at least for the 2012 season.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota contends a proposed constitutional amendment for a voter identification requirement is unnecessary, and it's using a cash reward to emphasize that point.
During a news conference today, ACLU Executive Director Chuck Samuelson offered to pay $1,000 to anyone who could show a recent case of voter impersonation that the ID requirement would have stopped. It has to be a prosecuted case within the past 10 years. Samuelson said he's already certain that there were none during that time frame.
"The bill has it is currently envisioned would not prevent the voter fraud that we know exists, and that is felons who are out of jail but no off parole, who have voted or who have registered to vote," Samuelson said.
Dan McGrath, executive director of the election watchdog group Minnesota Majority, said he's seen evidence of voter impersonation. But McGrath said it is impossible to catch someone who has used a fictitious identify to vote.
"If I go into the polling place, my name is Dan McGrath and I represent myself as Bob Smith, they're now looking for Bob Smith," McGrath said. "They might be able to fugure out there is no Bob Smith, but how are they ever going to find me?"
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, says he thinks the hospitality taxes that pay for Minneapolis Convention Center debt and other activities in the city ought to be ended.
A bill he introduced today would shut off half-percent sales taxes, downtown liquor and restaurant taxes and hotel taxes, as of 2020. That's when the bonds on the convention center are expected to be paid off. Here's a primer on the issue from last year's city budget.
The taxes are expected to raise about $51 million this year and the city has offered about $13 million a year of that to a future Vikings stadium -- although they only have about $11 million on hand, in present value. The biggest chunk of the money right now goes to pay for convention center debt, about $21 million this year, according to a financial analysis before the City Council.
Davids wouldn't say outright whether he'd give the city a reprieve if it committed to a Vikings stadium. "That's a separate issue," Davids said in an interview today. But he did suggest that an alternate use might be acceptable.
Said Davids, in explanation:
I came across a tax that was, I felt, it was overtaxed, if you will. And I don't really want to go to the slush fund business. But it's more than they needed. And so we need to monitor this at the state level and say hey there's plenty in there for what it was supposed to be for so let's back off on it and give the people of Minneapolis some relief.
Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak has suggested this very scenario, warning that the city is at the Legislature's mercy when it comes to the hospitality taxes.
Davids says he expects to hear more when his bill comes up for a hearing Thursday.