Speaker stalls stadium vote, citing lack of House supportby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio,
Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
There will be no vote on a Vikings stadium bill at the Capitol this weekend.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says he's been told it doesn't have enough support to pass. Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL lawmakers accused Zellers of holding the bill hostage.
Vikings fans wearing their team colors wandered the halls of the State Capitol Saturday, waiting for an anticipated stadium vote in the Minnesota House that never came.
Gov. Dayton said he thought it had taken "heroic efforts" by the authors of the bill to get it on the verge of action in the House and Senate. Dayton is growing impatient, and said he wants to see those floor votes soon.
"There's no other way out of here honorably and honestly except either to vote for it, or vote against it," said Dayton. "That's what I would urge the speaker and the majority leader to do. Schedule the votes, let everybody know in advance when the votes are going to take place, have the debates on the floor and then let the 201 representatives and senators decide."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers said he was surprised and disappointed by Dayton's comments.
He said supporters of the bill have been telling him that they don't have the votes, and he was reluctant to bring up the measure if it appeared destined to fail.
"People who are the authors of the bill and who are the advocates for the bill, when they say they have the votes, then the bill can come up," said Zellers. "But if they say that we're not there yet, whether it be Democrat or Republican votes, it's probably not a good idea to bring it up."
A key player in the stadium debate disputed Zellers's assessment. Vikings lobbyist Lester Bagley said he isn't sure who Zellers talked to about the bill, but he said he believes the votes are there to pass it in both the House and Senate.
"We have not told the speaker that they aren't there. But we do know that there is strong support for the Vikings and support for resolving this issue, and we think when this bill gets to the floor, it will pass," said Bagley.
DFL House Minority leader Paul Thissen said he thinks Zellers is holding the stadium bill hostage during the final days of the 2012 session. Thissen said he can promise 34 DFL votes, which is half of the total needed to pass the bill in the House.
"There are 34 Democrats willing to vote to support a stadium," said Thissen. "If he wants to find out if that's true, he should bring the bill up for a vote."
Zellers described Thissen's comments as "cheap politics." He also suggested that the plan to adjourn the session on Monday might have to be pushed back, but only if negotiations resume with the governor on a bonding bill and tax bill.
"If we're going to play games with bills and vote counts and that kind of stuff instead of negotiating with each other, that's their choice then not to meet with us or not to have clearly earnest negotiations. We're not going to waste the taxpayers' dollars," said Zellers.
Senate GOP Majority Leader Dave Senjem said he was also putting work on the tax bill and bonding bill ahead of the stadium. He scrapped a planned Sunday session to take up the stadium bill. Senjem said he expected to vote on the tax bill Monday.
Even though several big issues remain unresolved, lawmakers kept busy Saturday night with other matters.
Both chambers passed a bill that will increase fees for hunting, fishing and trapping. The Senate passed the final version of a bill to change teacher tenure rules, as well as a bill aimed at enhancing gambling at tribal casinos and privately owned horse racing tracks.
And Gov. Dayton vetoed a bill that would have allowed the sale and use of more powerful fireworks in Minnesota.
Tim Pugmire covers politics and state government for MPR News.