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Lanning says e-pull tabs will fund stadium

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ST. PAUL — Minnesotans should not worry that a new Vikings stadium will fall short of funding, a key lawmaker says.

Wednesday’s state budget report included an item showing revenue from newly authorized electronic pull tabs is slow coming to the state. That set off fears that money from the new gambling form might not be enough to provide the state’s portion of new stadium cost.

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The bill’s chief House author is not concerned.

“It’s not too surprising,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead. “We knew it was going to be slow.”

The problem is that so far just one company supplies iPads used for the new type of pull tab games. At least one more company is trying to get approved to sell the electronic devices, which Lanning said should help.

“I think it will grow,” said Lanning, who on Thursday attended his last House committee meeting before retiring.

While most of the attention has been paid to pull tabs, Lanning said he expects electronic bingo to be the big revenue-producer. “I think that is going to catch on more quickly.”

Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters that some bars with traditional pull tabs are waiting to see how the electronic version pays off before jumping in.

He later told The Associated Press that he does not think the stadium financing provisions will need to be rewritten when lawmakers return to St. Paul on Jan. 8.

Budget, then bonding

The top Minnesota House Republican says he could accept a public works funding bill next year.

However, Minority Leader-elect Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that the state’s two-year budget would have to be written before the House can pass a public works bill, which would be funded by the state selling bonds.

In talking to a group visiting the Capitol, Daudt left open some questions when he said: “I don’t think we are going to try to hold things up on a bonding bill.”

But when reporters asked him later, he explained that the budget must wrap up first. Then, he said, a 2013 bonding bill is possible.

Daudt said that Republicans he leads will have little say in the outcome of most issues in 2013’s legislative session, but Democrats do need some GOP votes to pass a bonding bill, which requires more than a simple majority.

Bonding bills usually are passed in even-numbered years, but several Democrats say they would like one next year.

Dayton, leaders to talk

Gov. Mark Dayton and the four top legislative leaders for 2013 sit down at the same table Monday, perhaps they only time they will do that for some time.

They will answer questions from Minnesota reporters for an hour, and Senate Media Services will provide a live stream on line for the public at www.senate.mn/media.

Joining Dayton will be House Speaker-designate Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis; Senate Majority Leader-elect Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook; House Minority Leader-elect Kurt Daudt, R-Crown; and Senate Minority Leader-elect David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

The tradition of the five leaders meeting the press to preview the upcoming legislative session goes back years, with one noteworthy exception. Two years ago Dayton was involved in an election recount with Republican Tom Emmer and the outcome was not known early enough to schedule the briefing.

This year’s briefing will be different than most, with Dayton and the House and Senate leaders all Democrats. That has not happened in more than two decades.

The legislative session begins at noon Jan. 8.

Unions, liberals react

Minnesota unions and liberal groups provided most of the reaction to Wednesday’s state budget forecast.

Minutes after the forecast was released, the largest state employee union called for tax increases to provide more revenue. The second largest union reacted later, as did several other Democratic-leaning unions and other organizations.

Conservative groups sent the media far fewer comments.

An example of the union response came from Minnesota Nurses Association President Linda Hamilton: “It’s useless to talk about cutting taxes at the state level just to have working families see their local and school district taxes skyrocket just to keep up.”

DFL looks at rural

House Democratic leaders are making attempts to make sure rural Minnesotans know they care.

The DFL caucus elected Minneapolis and St. Paul lawmakers as the two top leaders.

House Speaker-designate Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said that upcoming Democratic caucus elections for assistant leaders likely will put more rural people in power.

“I suspect that will be much more representative of the state,” he told a group visiting the Capitol.

Later, House Minority Leader-elect Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said concerns remain. “We are worried. ... We feel a little bit that the rural area is getting left behind.”

However, Thissen said that 85 percent of the state’s budget will go through committees chaired by rural Democrats.

Property taxes up

Minnesota property owners may pay an average of 2.3 percent more in property taxes, the Revenue Department reports.

That is how much local governments propose to raise taxes, but those governments still must approve those figures.

If the proposed levies are approved, that would mean a $187 million property tax increase.

Overall, cities propose to raise taxes the most, 3.1 percent. Counties expect the lowest rate increases, 1.7 percent.

Capitol offers e-parking

Minnesota Capitol complex visitors no longer need to bring bags of quarters to plug parking meters.

The state has replaced the meters with new central pay stations that allow visitors to use Visa, MasterCard and $1 and $5 bills. The new system still accepts coins, too.

The rate is $1.50 an hour or $6 a day.

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