Posted at 6:45 AM on May 1, 2012
by Catharine Richert
Filed under: Daily Digest
Welcome to the Daily Digest, where lawmakers have missed a self-imposed deadline to finish the session, the tax bill is a big sticking point between leadership and the governor, and a bill that will allow more games at horse tracks has been sent to Dayton.
At the Capitol
The Minnesota Legislature is back in session this morning after missing a self-imposed deadline to finish their work by Monday night.
Talks between legislative leadership and Gov. Mark Dayton about passing a handful of bills and ending the session continued Monday, but with little progress.
A bill to allow more card tables and new blackjack games at the state's horse tracks is on its way to Dayton for consideration.
The tax bill is a big road block in end-of-session budget negotiations.
Three senators say taxes paid by fans can help fund stadium.
Dayton vetoed a bill that would require a doctor to be in the room when a woman takes a pill to induce abortion.
Minnesota is a case study in the politics of implementing the health insurance exchanges, writes the New York Times.
The Star Tribune reports that the chief executive of URS Corp., which worked on the collapsed 35W bridge, wants to meet with Dayton to prove it should get more state contracts.
Dayton is expected to sign a game and fish bill that raises new revenue for the Department of Natural Resources.
The Republican Party of Minnesota has reached a rent agreement with its landlord.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for this morning at 8:45 a.m. at the Ramsey County District Court.
Sen. Al Franken wants colleges and universities to provide more understandable information about financial aid to students.
President Barack Obama asked China to improve its human rights record.
New documents and details about Osama bin Laden's last days are being revealed, showing that he was worried about al-Qaeda's image, the Washington Post reports.
On the Minnesota Campaign Trail
Republicans Alan Quist and Mike Parry, who both hope to run against DFL Rep. Tim Walz, say they're taking their campaigns to the primary.
On the Presidential Campaign Trail
Mitt Romney responds to questions from the Obama campaign over whether he would have ordered Osama bin Laden killed. Romney would have, he said.
Bo Obama is helping his dad with his campaign.
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says Republican legislative leaders have not yet responded to the tax bill offer he presented to them yesterday.
Dayton told reporters today that his proposal includes a tax credit for employers who hire people who are currently out of work or veterans, an upfront rebate for business equipment purchases and additional funding for the state's angel investor program. But Dayton did not include the business property tax reduction that Republicans want. He said the GOP plan would "rob from the financial future of the state."
"In 14 years, it would cost the state $2.3 billion in revenue," Dayton said. "That's just fundamentally unfair to future legislatures and governors, as well as the fact that it's all focused on business property tax relief."
House and Senate Republicans have already agreed on a tax bill that includes the property tax provision for businesses. Lawmakers could vote on that bill any day.
Dayton said he was fine with the Legislature remaining in session as long as necessary to complete work on its three unresolved issues. Lawmakers missed their self-imposed April 30 deadline for adjournment. In addition to the tax bill, they have not yet taken votes on a bonding bill or a Vikings stadium bill. Dayton said he doesn't want the disagreements over taxes to hold up the other two issues.
"The stadium bill deserves an up or down vote," he said. "The bonding bill bill deserves an up or down vote, and if they want to do a tax bill up or down vote, fine. Let's put everyone on the line, have up or down votes on the three remaining measures and then everybody can go home."
Dayton stressed that the bonding bill and stadium bill would result in thousands of needed jobs for construction workers. Republicans want to boost job growth through tax breaks for businesses.
There may be no party more conflicted by the deadlock at the Capitol -- other than the Legislature itself -- than the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
The group was key in getting a Vikings stadium bill moving again last month, when the plan was languishing in Senate and House committees. But now the stadium is tied up with their other priority: a bill that cuts taxes for businesses. Republicans and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton are locked in a "you first" staredown over the issue.
The highlight of the Republican tax bill on the table right now is freezing statewide business property taxes. Dayton said this morning he won't accept that because of the cost to the state treasury in future yearsand nixed it in his counter offer to the GOP yesterday.
"There's no property tax business reduction in our proposal, because the tails on that are enormous," Dayton said. "All of their tails would be about $145 million in the next biennium." Dayton says the state can't afford that.
But Minnesota Chamber President David Olson says it may be that the state can't afford not to.
"I think the bottom line is to send a signal to Minnesota businesses that we care and that we realize the economy is tough. And that's where we're hoping the governor and the legislative leadership can get get in a room and say, you know, how can we send a signal here, how do we pass a tax bill so we can get to work on a bonding bill and a stadium bill?" Olson said in an interview this morning. "You know, it's that time a year when all sides should be negotiating, and I think we're urging all sides to do exactly that."
But what about that property tax phase out? Is that a must have?
"I think it is," Olson said.
"Everybody realizes these are tight budget times," he added. "So I don't think the business community or the Republicans in the House and Senate for that matter, are overreaching here. I think they've shown a willingness to negotiate, and we're encouraging the governor to negotiate. Get everybody in a room, figure it out and go home."
For the time being, however, there are no meetings scheduled between the two sides. And what about the stadium bill? Olson says the tax bill has to be first in line.
"I'm convinced you need a vote on a tax bill and a passage of a tax bill before you're going to pick up enough votes for a stadium, and that's where things are colliding. I think there are some folks that have a broader agenda than just a stadium."
From Tim Pugmire and Tim Nelson
Gov. Mark Dayton says he was very disappointed to learn today that secret negotiations were underway between House Republicans and the Minnesota Vikings on an alternative stadium plan.
Dayton said a Vikings official confirmed to him that the new plan would use general obligation bonds for a roof-less stadium. During an afternoon news conference, Dayton said he thought Republicans were trying to score political points rather than resolve the stadium issue.
"The day after the Legislature was supposed to go home, they come out with a brand new financing that totally revamps it, that totally changes it from what it was intended to be, a people's stadium, to something else. It's just really hard to take this seriously."
Dayton again urged the House and Senate to vote soon on the bipartisan stadium bill that has already cleared all committees.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, walking into a meeting with Senate leaders, said he wasn't familiar with the proposal. He wouldn't speculate about whether it could pass in the House.
"I have no idea," Zellers said. "This is just another idea. It's that time of the session. Things, new ideas pop up. I haven't seen any of the details."
Senate stadium bill sponsor called the plan "a little bit of a surprise." She said it wasn't a viable deal, as far as she was concerned.
"There are some very key parts to this stadium deal. No. 1, it has to have a roof, whether its retractable or its fixed. This is the People's stadium. This should be able to be used by the high school football and soccer leagues, and the St. Thomas baseball team for spring practice. And we should be able to have a Super Bowl and the Final Four, and all those above. This is truly a stadium that has to have a roof. It could be on a little later, as long as its prepared."
MPR News did obtain the outlines of the proposal:
Republican leaders in the Minnesota Legislature say they're moving forward with an alternative stadium plan that borrows state general fund money to pay for the state's portion of a stadium with no roof.
Republicans wouldn't say how much the state would borrow, how the bonds would be financed or what the state would pay for in terms of infrastructure. But Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the plan has more support among Republicans than the stadium agreement reached by the Vikings, a bipartisan group of legislators and Governor Dayton.
"This is yet another plan," Zellers said. "As I said all along, before you know what plan hits the floor, it's actually too early to say, but in concept I do think this is a good idea based on how much member support it has."
The plan would also require a super majority to pass because it would be included in a public works bonding bill. Vikings lobbyists say they oppose the idea.
Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders also criticized Republicans for not voting on the stadium bill that is already before the House and Senate. Several Democrats said they believed Republicans were trying to "kill the stadium bill" for the year.
"This is some kind of an endgame gimmick," DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said. "I expect that they probably are going to throw this Hail Mary out there and probably plan to go home. This will be the largest do-nothing Legislature in state history."