Post-NFL visit, Vikes stadium picks up speed

Next time your pet legislative project is stalled in St. Paul, get NFL executives to fly in and light a fire under those people. Tim Nelson of MPR reports: “The Minnesota Vikings appear to be gaining ground again in their effort to get a $975 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis, now that the House Ways and Means committee has grafted a dead stadium bill from last week onto a new plan to legalize electronic pull tabs and bingo. That plan nearly triples the size of the state’s charitable gambling to fund the project. And it sets the stadium up for a long-awaited floor vote in the House. Bill sponsor Morrie Lanning, a Republican from Moorhead, said he expects that vote will take place in the next few days. … There are still several more hurdles ahead for the bill. The Senate stripped out a key provision last week aimed at winning support from the Minneapolis City Council. Originally, the Senate’s version of the stadium bill allowed some of the money from the deal to be diverted to pay for rehab and retire debt of the city-owned Target Center. Mayor R.T. Rybak said he felt sure it would be part of the final package — and that it had to be in the deal to win constitutionally mandated approval from the city.”

Mike Kaszuba and Jim Ragsdale at the Strib write: “As the legislation moved forward, there were also behind-the-scenes attempts Monday to steer it away from some legislative panels — the Senate Taxes Committee, for one — where it may not have enough votes to pass. And although a Senate Republican spokesman said DFLers would be expected to contribute half the votes on the Senate floor — Republicans hold a 37-to-30 majority — the leading Senate DFLer declined Monday to make that commitment. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said that, although DFLers had helped the stadium proposal survive a vote Friday in a Senate committee because of heavy Republican opposition, ‘people shouldn’t expect every committee and the floor is going to go that way.’ “

At Fox9, the story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday morning he think there’s a 50/50 chance a Vikings stadium bill passes this legislative session. But the governor disagreed with Sen. Tom Bakk’s statement a week ago that the stadium could be part of a ‘global’ end-of-session tax and bonding bill. ‘This issue should stand on its own,’ Dayton said. The Vikings stadium took the spotlight again Tuesday morning for a Senate hearing. In laying out the details, Sen. Julie Rosen said the stadium will include a Vikings museum and team Hall of Fame. The Minneapolis plan would draw on convention center tax revenue for its piece of the funding. ‘This is the creative funding stream to include Minneapolis as the local partner,’ Rosen said.” “Creative” seems appropriate.

The Glean

For the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Heather Carlson reports: “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney flew to Minnesota on Friday to put the full-court press on lawmakers. That afternoon, a Senate committee approved without recommendation a plan for a Vikings stadium in Minneapolis. While the commissioner’s visit certainly drew attention to the issue, lawmakers I talked with say they believe the new momentum behind the stadium has more to do with the calendar. ‘What is probably more relevant is the calendar. You always knew the Vikings were going to be part of the end game, so to speak. Well, it’s time for the end game,’ said Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester. Nelson voted for the Vikings bill in committee. She said the issue deserves a full public debate. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, agrees. He said he believes lawmakers will pass a stadium bill by April 30. But the key to making it happen is a broader agreement between legislative leaders and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton that includes tax relief, a bonding bill and Vikings stadium.”

You can’t rein in those public unions fast enough for some folks. Megan Boldt of the PiPress writes: “Republican legislators say they’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in negotiations between Minnesota’s state employee unions and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, accusing the two sides of ‘dragging their feet.’ The DFL governor is in the midst of negotiations with several unions, including the two biggest — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. The contracts expired almost 10 months ago. Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said on Tuesday … that union members have told him and other lawmakers that they are intentionally taking their time, hoping for a more favorable Legislature after November’s election. Republicans are in control of both the House and Senate for the first time in almost four decades. ‘They’re purposely slowing down the process of contract negotiations,’ Parry said.”

Fresh back from Afghanistan, Michele Bachmann is making Medicaid her next target. Jake Grovum of Politics in Minnesota says: “Michele Bachmann on Wednesday will lend her voice to the long-simmering controversy and congressional inquiry over Minnesota’s handling of its Medicaid program. A joint hearing on Medicaid fraud in the state of two U.S. House subcommittees is set for Wednesday morning in Washington, and Bachmann will be a testifier before panel, along with the Minnesota’s Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and David Feinwachs, a former counsel for the Minnesota Hospital Association. The panel will be wading into the political hot-button issue of Medicaid fraud and government spending in general. A joint state-federal health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid, and alleged fraud in particular, is a frequent target of budget-cutting Republicans in Washington and around the country.”

This really is like bayoneting the wounded. Jessica Silver-Greenberg of The New York Times reports: “Hospital patients waiting in the emergency room or convalescing after surgery could find themselves confronted by an unexpected visitor: a debt collector at bedside. One of the nation’s largest medical debt-collection companies is under fire in Minnesota for having placed its employees in emergency rooms and other departments at two hospitals and demanding that patients pay before receiving treatment, according to documents released Tuesday by the Minnesota attorney general. The documents say the company also used patient health records to wrangle for more money on overdue bills. The company, Accretive Health, has contracts with dozens of hospitals around the country. Since January, it has faced a civil lawsuit filed by Attorney General Lori Swanson of Minnesota alleging that it violated state and federal debt-collection laws and patient privacy protections. Ms. Swanson, though not bringing further charges on Tuesday, said she was in discussions with state and federal regulators to prompt a widespread crackdown on Accretive Health’s practices in other states. … As a growing number of hospitals struggle under a glut of unpaid bills, they are turning to companies like Accretive.

Related: Tony Kennedy of the Strib adds: “An Illinois consulting company has been dropped by Fairview Health Services as a revenue manager after Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson alleged consumer protection violations and a troubling shift into unconventional collection practices that extended to patients still in hospital emergency rooms cancer wards and delivery rooms. The attorney general’s review of Fairview’s management contracts with Accretive Health Inc. found a profound culture clash that Swanson said was more serious than any individual violation. Accretive imposed ‘boiler-room-style sales atmospheres’ at Fairview’s seven hospitals using collection quotas, cash inducements and in-house competitions to squeeze cash from patients before they were treated.”

Amy Senser teared up in court today. Matt McKinney and Abby Simons of the Strib write: “Amy Senser broke down Tuesday morning during her trial when a prosecutor showed a photo of the body of the man she struck and killed splayed face-down on a Minneapolis exit ramp about 30 feet from his car, his white T-shirt pulled up around his torso and his pants down. The photo of the Aug. 23 crash scene with Anousone Phanthavong’s body brought Senser to tears during testimony by the first three witnesses in her criminal-vehicular homicide trial, each of whom called 911 after exiting and spotting the body on the road. None saw what happened.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Joe Musich on 04/24/2012 - 03:00 pm.

    crisis of optimism

    I heard an interview last evening about the history of western military involvement in Afghanistan back to the British in the late 1830’s. The British withdrawal and the deaths related to to it were traced back to a crisis of optimism. Even tho experts including Lord Wellington knew and warned of the venture it went ahead. It was a crisis of optimism.
    It seems to me this phraseology can be directly related to the Vikings stadium fiasco.
    We will all pay for this ludicrous over extention.

  2. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 04/24/2012 - 03:48 pm.

    Bachmann on Medicare fraud?

    Gee, I wonder if she’ll refer to the $137,000 that her husband Marcus’ “Bachmann and Associates” clinic has received for treating patients in Medicaid-backed programs. It’ll be interesting to see how she justifies “Pray Away the Gay” as legitimate, since no reputable authority any longer does. According to the LA TIMES, Michele Bachmann lists the Lake Elmo, Minn.-based clinic — which aims to provide “quality Christian counseling in a sensitive, loving environment,” according to its website — as one of her assets on her financial disclosure forms. A *real* inquiry would try to determine why religious ‘counseling’ is getting taxpayer funding.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 04/24/2012 - 03:58 pm.

      Her next claim

      Trying to take away my religious freedom

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/24/2012 - 04:36 pm.

        But You Don’t Realize that For Ms. Bachmann

        and many other “Christian” “Conservatives,” taking away their right to severely limit your OWN right to practice your faith (or lack thereof) and live your life, within reasonable limits, as you see fit,…

        damages HER “freedom” to force you to live and believe as SHE believes her “god” is telling her she must force you to do.

        Thus by demanding your own religious freedom, these “conservatives” somehow believe that you are trampling all over their own “freedom” (even though you would never presume to tell them that THEY must live their lives according to your OWN beliefs).

        By their statements and actions, Ms. Bachmann and her “conservative” friends make it clear that they believe they will only be truly free when everyone else is forced to become a slave to what they, themselves, believe.

  3. Submitted by Walter Wozniak on 04/25/2012 - 12:25 am.

    Is she testifying as an expert on how to commit Medcaid fraud or prevent it? We have all heard through news outlets how fraud is committed against Medicaid and Medicare. This also happens because the legislators who complain about the fraud, also refuse to fund oversight to protect the interests of the taxpayer and those legitimately on Medicaid. Go after these people, and I think we will all see and be surprised how much money is saved.

Leave a Reply