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House and charities agree on electronic pull-tab deal

Well, if no one else, the House has reached an agreement with charitable gambling operations for a tax relief package that puts charities on the bus for electronic pull-tabs. Doug Belden’s PiPress story says: “It wasn't clear Sunday whether Gov. Mark Dayton or Senate leaders support the new deal. A hearing on an amended stadium bill and a standalone bill on tax relief for charities is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday ... before the House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee. Chairman Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, said he expects both bills to pass. He said he plans to take up the standalone bill first and then, if it passes, include it in the stadium bill. The new stadium bill also specifies four backup sources of funding that would kick in if revenue from electronic pulltabs and bingo games should not be enough to finance the state's share of the stadium project. That has been a concern for some lawmakers, who were afraid the state's general fund would be tapped if e-pulltab revenue came up short. But two of the backup sources add taxes at the stadium site, which the Vikings oppose, and another taps excess Hennepin County tax revenue, which is unlikely to be popular with county officials. Even so, ‘I think it's a good proposal,’ said Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, the House sponsor of the bill, on Sunday.”

Tim Nelson at MPR writes: “King Wilson, executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota, said the state has offered to restructure the taxes levied on charitable gambling, and made the overall deal acceptable to his group. He represents more than 1,000 charitable gambling operations around the state. ‘As we said early on, this is not going to be a simple solution,’ Wilson said. ‘It was complex, but I think we've come up with something that's very fair and good for all’. … The agreement also authorizes a luxury seat tax, creates a sports-themed lottery game and contributes extra money to the stadium deal from the sales tax that originally funded the Twins stadium. Those sources would only be tapped, however, if electronic pull tabs didn't raise enough to pay Vikings stadium bonds.” What about loose change under sofa cushions?

At the Strib, Mike Kaszuba says: “[T]he latest proposal opens the possibility of having the team and Hennepin County add money for the nearly $1 billion stadium. The new stadium plan, described in documents released Sunday, appeared to resolve questions about a proposal that would allow electronic bingo and pull tabs in Minnesota's bars and restaurants to raise the state's $398 million share of the stadium cost. In doing so, however, the plan leaves only a $10 million a year cushion between what the state needs to pay for the stadium and what the charitable gaming revenues — an untested source of income — are expected to provide. … Under the latest proposal, a tax on luxury suites would be used first should the charitable gambling proceeds fall short. Should that not be enough, state officials would turn to a sports lottery game, then the Hennepin County money and, finally, a stadium admissions tax. ‘The Vikings, I'm sure, would prefer not to have an admissions tax’ or a tax on luxury suites, said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, chief House author of the stadium legislation. ‘They're not going to jump up for joy, I'm sure.’ Vikings officials and Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat have already voiced opposition to the plan. … The latest proposal will get its first House hearing at 6 p.m. Monday in front of the Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska. A Senate panel had given the proposal a hearing last month, but did not take a vote. Hoppe said he had long wanted a tax on luxury suites and stadium seats in an attempt to fund the stadium, but said the idea met with resistance. ‘The [National Football] League didn't like it. The team didn't like it,’ he said.” Well, by current standards, that makes Mr. Hoppe one very brave man.

At Forbes, Mike Ozanian follows up on that funky Home Field Advantage poll stadium supporters were hyping a week ago. He says: “Between 2005 and 2010, the Vikings organization spent more than $3 million to lobby for their cause, making it one of the top spenders at the Capitol, according to state records. Last year the Vikings spent more than $300,000 on an advertising campaign and this year has an array of big-name lobbyists under contract. But taxpayers have not been persuaded they should pay up. According to three polls taken by the StarTribune from 2010 through 2011, the public has consistently been opposed to using public subsidies for the new stadium. Why? In next year’s state budget Minnesota will face a $1.1 billion budget shortfall for the 2014-15 budget cycle. Add inflationary costs and $2.4 billion in IOUs to schools used to balance past deficits, and the state will be more than $4.5 billion in the hole. Also, the new stadium relies on $398 million of taxes from charitable gambling operators — not the most predictable source of financing (which explains why a ‘back-up plan’ was announced yesterday by politicians pushing for public funding). … In what looks like a final effort to drum up support for the stadium a poll was taken last week by a group called Home Field Advantage, a coalition of business and community leaders in Minneapolis. Home Field Advantage quickly trumpeted that the poll showed 61% of the people in the state want a new stadium. But as MPR News, reported, the poll is bogus based on how it framed its questions. And The Deets followed up with a detailed explanation of why the questions were misleading and the results of the poll cannot be trusted.” Unless it’s what you want to trust.

You, Mr. or Mrs. Average Minnesotan, probably saved something like $200 on heating costs this past non-winter. At the Strib, Bill McAuliffe writes: “The warm weather this winter, coupled with low natural gas prices, found Minnesotans paying nearly 30 percent less to heat their homes than they did last winter, and about half as much as they did only four years ago. The average CenterPoint Energy homeowner paid $358 for gas from November through February, compared with $674 for the same period in 2007-08, said spokeswoman Rebecca Virden. That's a drop of 47 percent. Xcel Energy gas customers saw a 41 percent decrease, from $637 to $377, over the same period, according to spokeswoman Mary Sandok.”

The AP is keeping an eye on the taxpayer cost of defending the Senate GOP against Michael Brodkorb: “Legal costs are mounting at taxpayer expense even before former high-ranking Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb sues over his dismissal. The Senate has hired an outside attorney to defuse fallout from Brodkorb's admitted affair with former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. But so far officials have refused to disclose attorney Dayle Nolan's contract or hourly rate. Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman told The Associated Press he believes Nolan's contract is covered by attorney-client privilege and can remain private. He says Nolan hasn't submitted a bill yet, but he expects it will exceed a five-figure threshold that would force disclosure of invoices.” Oh, I think we can bet on that.

Very good piece of Paul McEnroe of the Strib on the state’s “million dollar inmates.” It got front-page play Sunday: “With a medical budget that has tripled in the past decade, to $68 million last year, the Corrections Department faces politically sensitive questions — among them the matter of providing expensive, sophisticated medical care to offenders who have committed heinous crimes, at a time when many Minnesotans are struggling to afford basic care and health insurance.
‘The aging curve in prison is crushing when it comes to costs, just like the one for the general public, and it won't get any better,’ said Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, whose district includes a correctional facility and the secured treatment center for the state's sex offenders. Nan Larsen, the Corrections Department's medical director, is often asked by legislators why prisoners are afforded care that those on the outside would find difficult to obtain. … A snapshot of inmate health is sobering: More than 80 percent are considered chemically dependent, and nearly 20 percent are estimated to be hepatitis C-positive. Decades of smoking, boozing and drug use have pushed their hearts, livers and kidneys to the edge of failure. Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are common. More than 20 percent of the men and nearly 70 percent of the women are on psychotropic medications. Just to treat prisoners with cancer, the department has spent more than $14.4 million over the past five years. Four prisoners now await stem-cell transplants. Cardiac care — ranging from heart bypass grafts and stents to pacemakers — has cost nearly $2 million over the past four years.” It's almost like if you know you're going to need a heart transplant, get convicted of robbing a convenience store and you'll be better off. 

The Strib’s comments line will be burning up in response to House Speaker Kurt Zellers commentary calling out Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL for dragging their heels on job creation: “Dayton has spent the last six weeks refusing to admit that any of the bills passed by the Legislature are designed to encourage job growth. Bills to lower business property taxes — an area Minnesota rates especially poor in — crack down on abusive lawsuits, further avoid unnecessary permitting delays and improve education in areas that we know will boost student achievement have been labeled ‘election ploys’ supported by ‘wrongdoers’ by the governor. Not one unemployed Minnesotan is helped by this campaign-style attack rhetoric. … The governor put forward a bonding package that we feel borrows too much; Republicans made a counterproposal that keeps the borrowing to an affordable level and focuses on fixing existing state infrastructure, including our State Capitol, which is dangerously close to falling into disrepair. Let's work on finding a way to take these ideas, find an agreement we can each support and have a productive end to this legislative session. If we put today's jobs agenda before November's election agenda, we can tell those unemployed Minnesotans that we put them first and that more Minnesota jobs are on the way.” Or ... maybe if they hired the unemployed to door-knock for the anti-gay marriage amendment and Voter ID?

Sally Jo Sorenson of Bluestem Prairie has great fun with a just-released email exchange between Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem and a constituent upset with the role the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) plays in drafting GOP bills. It’s a long read, but suffice it to say, Sen. Senjem believes when it comes to influence, “tribes and unions” have it all over mere business interests. She says: “And unlike traditional lobbyists or unions (which are heavily regulated by reporting requirements administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, the FEC and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board), ALEC and its corporate funders are not required to disclose a dime of spending. And corporate influence? In the world described in Senjem's email, it simply can't happen for his caucus, while unions and those lobbying for tribal gaming interests exercise undue influence, while only giving to Democratic legislators. This worldview runs counter to recent reports about influence at the Minnesota state capitol and contributions to legislative campaign committee coffers. … In Senjem's mind, the Senate Majority caucus and the corporate interests it champions may be powerless, and ALEC the legislative equivalent of that seldom-used gym membership, but that hardly seems likely as reports of ALEC's national influence — and the copycat bills it spawns — continue to emerge. ... But Senjem's peculiar framing to a constituent obscures a more pressing issue: if the Senate Majority leader is so concerned about his perceptions of undue influence on the part of unions and tribal gaming concerns, where are the bills that would reform lobbying or campaign finance in Minnesota?"

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Comments (8)

That great philanthropic organization, the NFL

Well of course the NFL isn't going to be in favor of anything that might cut into their (non) profits!

Let them take out a loan and pay their own way like any other business. And if they don't like it, hopefully the door won't leave to big a bruise on their nether regions as they exit, stage left.

So, let me get this straight ...

... in Sen. Senjem's mind, the rich folks in this country are the ones without the power?

Does he also believe that water runs uphill?

Well, of course Lanning

Well, of course Lanning thinks it's a good bill. It's not his constituents forking over any money in the deal.

Be fair

Some folks from Moorhead will drink and gamble in Minneapolis. They'll be on the hook for 30 or 40 bucks in this deal. I mean David, be fair. That statewide 2 cent / drink tax that Mayor Coleman was pushing sounds better and better. Not good, just better.

Here's a novel idea:

Require that the Vikings open up their books if they are to receive any public money. If they want to make a case for why public money is necessary, I think they need to explain exactly how their profits (or lack thereof) fit into the equation. BTW, I am a Vikings fan, just not a corporate charity fan.

If Senator Henjem is really that ignorant about ALEC

many Democratic members of the legislature would, I'm sure, be happy to enlighten him. I'd even be happy to help. Someone is his position should be educated as to what is really going on. He may even decide he doesn't like it.

Re: Vikings -- Why in the world should Minnesota care that the Vikings "would not like" taxes on luxury suites?

Novel as in fiction

The Vikings got this deal without opening their books. Why would they do it now? Recently there was an article saying the naming rights to the stadium could be worth as much as 300 million. They just gave those rights to the Vikings without any argument. So with that future gift the vikes only have to come up with another 100m and the public comes up with 600m still. If this was a "people's" stadium you'd think the people would get that income. Rybak, Dayton and the rest couldn't run a Subway franchise without going bankrupt.

I bet if Rybak loses the next election over this he will get some cushy PR job for one of the millionaires pushing this scam plus a week or two at the Wilf timeshare condo in New York.

My point exactly.

My point exactly.