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Tax leader wants hearing on stadium bill

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Tax leader wants hearing on stadium bill
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. PAUL -- A key Minnesota state senator gave Vikings stadium supporters a dose of reality this morning in announcing she plans to slow the rapid movement of a bill to construct a new facility.

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Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said the bill should stop in her Tax Committee before heading to the full Senate.

"The Vikings stadium proposal that passed the Senate jobs committee contains provisions that require the consideration of the Senate Tax Committee," the deputy Senate majority leader said in a statement released minutes before what was thought to be the bill's final committee hearing began. "I am requesting that the bill be referred to the Tax Committee following this morning's hearing in finance."

The Senate Finance Committee was discussing the bill this morning, and was to have been the last committee stop before a full Senate vote before the Legislature adjourns for the year Monday. But Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, said he found 174 tax references in the bill to fund a stadium, but at the time it was not scheduled to be considered by the Tax Committee.

In the House, the bill skipped the equivalent committee and awaits a vote by the full House.

House Tax Chairman Greg Davids, R-Preston, hinted Monday night that he might request the bill head to his committee, but he made no formal move.

The tax committees are expected to be tougher sells for the stadium.

Since Commissioner Roger Goodell of the National Football League met Friday with Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders, what had appeared to be a dead bill suddenly started to move with unusual speed toward House and Senate votes. Committees have approved the slightly differing House and Senate bills on voice votes, which means there is no official record of how lawmakers voted.

In House committees, especially, legislators have asked tough questions and expressed doubts about parts of the bill. Those questions leave the final outcome up in the air.

The Vikings want to build a $975 million stadium on the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis, with $398 million of state money. The state would allow charities that sponsor pulltabs and bingo to use electronic devices, which state officials say would bring in enough new taxes to fund the state's portion of stadium construction costs.

The Minneapolis City Council Tuesday night voted 7-6 to tentatively support the stadium. Many lawmakers said they needed to make sure the council was behind the stadium plan before they could vote for it.

"We will take this vote and build on the momentum happening at the Capitol to bring good jobs and lower property taxes to Minneapolis," Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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