MINNESOTA POLITICS: Split on adjournment ... Suggestions for redistricting ... Vikings stadium talk ... more
House, Senate split on adjournmentST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators seemed to be happy when they adjourned for the year, while House members argued to the end.
House, Senate split on adjournment
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators seemed to be happy when they adjourned for the year, while House members argued to the end.
Sometimes in the past few years, Republican senators have shouted and protested as they were cut off trying to debate issues as the session ended. There was none of that this year, as Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, and Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, worked out the details to a smoother end.
Retiring Sen. Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy, earned the honor of adjourning the session.
With a broad smile on his face, he declared: "I have to get home and plant my wife's garden."
Another senator leaving the body, Rep. Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm, stood in for the Senate president and gaveled the session a close.
In the meantime, Republican representatives were complaining about an education bill bring brought up in the brief special session that was not part of the pre-session agreement.
"This is breaking the deal," said Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.
Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, added, "This is absolutely wrong to try to jam us at this time. It is not about the policy. A deal is a deal, folks."
Unlike the end of most sessions that were concluded by a budget deal, there was no joint appearance with the governor and legislative leaders to announce it. This year, Pogemiller walked out of the governor's office and told waiting media the deal was cut; Pawlenty came out to talk after legislative leaders departed.
The 2010 legislative session barely is over, but three well-known politicians ask Minnesota lawmakers to reform redistricting early next year.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale, ex-Gov. Arne Carlson and longtime Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe made the plea as legislators must consider drawing new legislative and congressional district lines next year in light of new census information. Because the U.S. Supreme Court requires equal representation, lines are redrawn after each census.
Minnesota lawmakers usually cannot agree on where to draw the lines, leaving the job up to judges. This year, legislators considered but did not act on new redistricting rules.
"The 2010 Minnesota Legislature missed a grand opportunity to put politics aside and create an independent, nonpartisan system for drawing new congressional and legislative district lines," Mondale said.
Moe said, "In my four decades of work on redistricting, we most often failed to pass a plan or one that would pass muster with the courts. We need a system that works as the state faces the prospect of having to redraw congressional districts and a number of state legislative districts."
The trio suggests an independent commission to draw district lines because politicians have a built-in bias.
Vikings still ask
The Minnesota Vikings football team issued what some considered a veiled threat as the 2010 Legislature adjourned.
The team wants permission to build a new stadium and in a statement said, "This solution must be finalized in the 2011 session."
Team owners say they will not play in the Metrodome after the Vikings' lease expires after the 2011 season. But with the state facing what some say could be a nearly $6 billion deficit next year, prospects are anything but certain for the team getting state financial support in 2011.
"The Vikings organization is extremely disappointed that the governor and state Legislature did not move the stadium issue forward this year," the Vikings' statement said. "While we greatly respect the challenges and priorities faced by the state of Minnesota, resolution of this issue has now been pushed to the final year of the lease. This lack of action will only increase the costs of the project for everyone, plus we missed the opportunity to put thousands of Minnesotans back to work."
While team owners say they will not move the team from Minnesota, there is evidence that they may consider selling it and the new owners would move it elsewhere.
Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.
Corporations flexing new muscle in Minnesota elections won't be able to keep campaign spending secret under legislation awaiting action by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The measure approved unanimously in the final hour of the legislative session won't hold back a feared flood of new money in state political races, but it would give voters a sense of where those dollars are coming from.
The Republican governor hasn't said whether he'll sign the bill but has until May 30 to decide. The bill has the backing of business groups, which anticipate it will become law.
The bill requires groups that inject themselves into campaigns to detail their donors and spending at least four times ahead of this year's elections, which is a more rigorous requirement than candidates or political parties face.
It applies to so-called independent expenditures, which is spending on mailings, billboards and broadcast ads to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate without any campaign's consent or coordination. Not-for-profit groups such as trade or interest organizations that employ such campaign tactics will have to be more forthcoming with donor information once they spend more than $5,000.
The disclosure trade-off was the sole response from lawmakers to court rulings that erased long-standing barriers to corporate campaign spending. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted restrictions on corporations and labor unions from spending money from their treasuries in federal races. This month, a federal judge invalidated a similar law on Minnesota's books, although labor unions had latitude to direct member dues to state races.
Poll sees mistrust
Minnesota voters have a dim view of the federal government, with more than three-quarters in a new poll saying they "only sometimes" or "never" trust Washington to do what is right.
The Minnesota Public Radio News/Humphrey Institute poll published Thursday also found that more than half of respondents think government has too much power and two-thirds want a smaller government.
The poll of 701 adults was taken May 13-16 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points.
More in the poll -- 48 percent to 37 percent -- disapprove of the federal health overhaul pushed through by Democrats.
Meanwhile, Minnesotans aren't enamored with the tea party either, with half saying the movement doen't reflect the views of Americans. Twenty-one percent had no opinion.
Just two years after helping host the Republican National Convention, the city of Minneapolis is vying to play host to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Kristen Montag, a spokeswoman for Meet Minneapolis, said the bid was being submitted Friday, the deadline for bids. Meet Minneapolis functions as the city's marketing arm.
Minneapolis hosted some of the functions associated with the GOP's 2008 convention, though the primary site was Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. A post-convention report prepared by a University of St. Thomas marketing professor said that brought $170 million in new spending to the area.
The 2008 convention was also marked by rowdy demonstrations, with some 800 protesters arrested by police. The 2012 Democratic convention is scheduled to start Sept. 3 of that year.
-- Associated Press