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Vikings stadium momentum slows

Dayton vetoes abortion center bill; farm child-labor rule dropped; wolf stewardship conference; another honor for Bob Dylan; and more.

That racino(s) + electronic pulltabs combo is still alive for a stadium funding package. But don’t count on it for much longer. Tim Nelson’s MPR story says: “Even if supporters remove the [racino] provision, the primary financing mechanism — electronic pull-tabs and bingo — leaves gambling and an NFL stadium firmly linked.  ‘We decided that probably the only way we could fund this was to go through the route of gaming revenues,’ said bill sponsor, Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead. The pull-tab plan is still the best bet for the project, he said. … Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem said he doesn’t think the racinos are problematic — he has supported them in the past. He said the electronic pull-tabs are a much bigger expansion of gambling, and that gambling in general is going to cost the Vikings support among Republicans in the Senate. ‘I think it loses eight or nine members. So, that makes it a little more difficult,’ Senjem said. … But Senate Republicans are even more opposed to other taxes — at least those not on gambling proceeds. And with purple-clad Vikings fans blowing horns and roaring cheers around the Capitol, they run the risk of being in charge and taking the blame if the Vikings don’t get a stadium and leave Minnesota.”

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler describes something like slowing momentum: “The headline on stadium developments Thursday is that there were no developments, and that’s causing some concern for Vikings supporters. It brought more fans to the Capitol to lobby for a bill they say is not just stalled, it’s being held hostage. It set off a protest among football fans inside the House chambers. The stadium momentum is not only stalled, opponents appear to be getting stronger. A group of prominent lawmakers have serious concerns about using electronic pull tabs to fund the facility. It’s so unreliable, they say, the state will need to dip into the treasury to cover losses. … Whatever momentum the stadium had was road blocked by the Senate Taxes Committee, which has not scheduled a hearing. The committee chairwoman is denying she is holding the stadium hostage until Democrats agree to the GOP tax and jobs bill.”

Doug Belden of the PiPress writes: “A Republican state lawmaker says he plans to offer an amendment on the floor of the House to replace the state funding stream in the Vikings stadium bill with a package of taxes. ‘We don’t trust the estimates’ on tax revenue from newly authorized electronic forms of charitable gaming, said Mike Benson of Rochester at a news conference Thursday …. ‘We are the only state that’s trying this.’ Benson said he also doesn’t want to see gambling expand in the state. He is proposing an income tax surcharge on pro football players, a gross receipts tax on sports memorabilia and the sale of liquor, and other measures. … Thursday saw a lull in stadium action, with a hearing in the Senate Taxes committee put off till Friday at the earliest and the chief House sponsor, Rep. Morrie Lanning, saying a House vote was not likely until the stadium bill clears the Senate’s committee process. Also Thursday, Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, proposed a stadium funding stream drawn from the team, business community, and fans and users.”

Do you care what the editorial page of the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic thinks we should do? “It’s easy for South Dakotans to weigh in on the debate about whether Minnesota taxpayers should fund a pricey new stadium for the NFL’s Vikings. Gazing eastward without the worry that our own taxes will be affected, we think they should just do it. The Metrodome is just a mess. Although the Vikings certainly could continue to play in the building, it’s not fair to ask them to do so, since they could be earning more dollars in a new stadium. Fans, too, deserve a better facility. … Prediction: If the Vikings leave, the fans will be the first to pitch a fit. Then, businessmen will feel the pinch as they experience the loss of revenue during the fall and winter months. Lawmakers will take the blame. And a few years down the road, Minnesotans will be in the hunt for a new football team to fill the void. But that team won’t commit without a new stadium and some sort of deal, probably one that will cost as much or more than the proposed stadium of today. … Would South Dakota taxpayers pay to keep Mount Rushmore from moving to Iowa? Of course we would.”

As expected, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed an abortion center licensing bill pushed through by the GOP. Megan Boldt at the PiPress writes: “The Republican-backed proposal also would have forced clinics to pay a $3,712 annual license fee. Proponents argue it’s an important issue to the health and safety of women. Opponents contend that state health officials already have ample oversight of abortion providers and that the proposed regulation is more about restricting access to abortions than protecting women.
Dayton said in his veto letter Thursday … that clinics are subject to significant oversight. Nurses and doctors are licensed under their respective health boards and labs must meet federally set requirements. ‘There is no evidence of poor quality or unsafe procedures being performed in Minnesota clinics,’ Dayton wrote. The Minnesota Medical Association also asked the governor to veto the bill, arguing that there are no safety problems and that the proposal also could affect obstetrical clinics that need to terminate pregnancies because of complications.” So again, no problem but an expensive solution.

Apparently the bugs are already bad out west. The Fergus Falls Journal reports: “A 17-year-old Dent girl received non-life threatening injuries Wednesday morning after she crashed her car on State Highway 108, an accident caused when she lost control after swatting bugs in her car, the Minnesota State Patrol reported. Danielle Peterson, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was driving her Toyota Camry east on the roadway, near Star Lake, when she attempted to swat some bugs in the vehicle. Around 7:20 a.m., she lost control and the vehicle rolled, ejecting her out of the driver’s side window.” Note to self: Always carry a can of Raid in the glove compartment.

The Farmers Union likes a ruling by the Labor department. Jon Collins at MPR writes: “The U.S. Department of Labor is withdrawing a rule that would have limited the sorts of work that children can do on farms. The proposed rule led to criticism from Minnesota farmers who said it would have disrupted life on family farms. Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson said the formal withdrawal of the rule was a ‘win for family farmers.’ ‘The issue was that the Department of Labor didn’t fully understand how farms actually worked and what roles kids actually had in farming labor,’ Peterson said. … Peterson said the Department of Labor should have asked farmers before proposing the rule. A statement issued Thursday by the Department of Labor attributed the withdrawal of the rule to ‘thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms.’ “

Also at MPR, Dan Kraker covers a conference on wolves in the context of a likely new hunting season: “The two main issues being discussed at the Midwest Wolf Stewards Conference are hunting and the depredation of livestock by wolves. Since the wolf was removed from the Endangered Species list in January, Minnesota has certified nearly 80 trappers to kill problem wolves that prey on animals. U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife biologist John Hart said a wolf hunt likely won’t have much impact on the number of wolves that prey on livestock. He said most depredation occurs in the summer, while a hunt would take place in the fall and winter.”

His Bob-ness can add a Presidential Medal of Freedom to his trophy cabinet. At the Strib, Jon Bream writes: “Add Presidential Medal of Freedom to the long list of awards that Bob Dylan has won. The Minnesota troubadour is among this year’s 13 recipients of the highest award for a civilian, the White House announced Thursday. Dylan is performing in Argentina and did not release a comment or post one on his website. The award will be officially presented later in the spring. It’s too early to tell if Dylan, who turns 71 next month, will show up. He did not receive his Pulitzer Prize citation in person in 2008 because he was on tour in Europe. Among his other awards are the National Medal of Arts, 11 Grammys, one Oscar and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame … The Presidential Medal of Freedom announcement hailed Dylan as ‘one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century’ known for ‘his rich and poetic lyrics, considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.’ “