Stadium hearing abruptly ends with no voteQuestions about constructing a Minnesota Vikings stadium piled up so high today that a committee suspended debate before taking a vote, but the bill’s author hopes to bring it back up yet this week.
By: Don Davis, Alexandria Echo Press
ST. PAUL -- Questions about constructing a Minnesota Vikings stadium piled up so high today that a committee suspended debate before taking a vote, but the bill’s author hopes to bring it back up yet this week.
Many senators on the committee were not satisfied with the stadium funding source, prompting Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, to move to lay the bill over. Chairman Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, said he will wait until bill author Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, can get the questions answered before calling a new meeting.
Rosen said she hopes to work with opponents quickly enough that a new meeting can be held in the next couple of days.
If there is no vote by Friday, the bill will have missed a legislative deadline and would need special permission to continue.
The biggest factor in suspending debate was over the accuracy of Revenue Department’s estimate that the state would receive $62 million a year from allowing pulltab and bingo games used by charitable fundraisers to use electronic devices. The organization representing charities doubts the estimate.
“It wasn’t quite ready yet,” Vandeveer said of the bill.
Others said Vandeveer’s committee was evenly divided.
Rosen said that part of the problem was that the 70-page bill only was made available in recent days, so many committee members had little time to look at it before today’s meeting.
She promised “a lot of discussions” this week to fix the bill.
“It’s imperative to this governor and this Legislature to get this done,” she said.
Vice President Lester Bagley of the Vikings said he thought the stadium bill still could be wrapped up soon.
“We do feel like there is a opportunity to get this done this year,” he said. “Clearly, there are some questions.”
Negotiations will continue, he said, adding that “it is too early to say what’s next” if the stadium fails this year.
Sen. Benjamin Kruse, R-Brooklyn Park, was critical of using gambling to fund a stadium.
“This gambling revenue is a tax and one of the most regressive taxes we could offer,” he said, adding that it also is undependable.
Rosen told Kruse that she and other stadium supporters are working on a backup plan in case pulltab and bingo revenues fall short. However, she said that she thinks the Revenue Department estimate is accurate.
One backup plan Rosen said is being considered would place fees on sports-related activities. That could kick in, she said, if the gambling revenue falters.