Local Officials Ask State For More Flexibility

Local government officials say they could help citizens better if the state got off their back.

Lawmakers Look To Business Tax, Permit Changes

Minnesota businesses will pay less in corporate property taxes and have an easier time obtaining state permits if Republican lawmakers have their way during the 2012 legislative session.

New Session Brings Smiles, Differences Among Leaders

Legislative leaders and the governor approach session showing smiles, but also talk about differences.

Dayton: Don’t Count On Racino Money Quickly

Gov. Mark Dayton says if stadium supporters count on racino money, they should not bet on quick money.
The governor said that racino likely would be tied up in court for years if that is how lawmakers opt to fund a new Vikings stadium. Minnesota’s American Indian tribes probably would file a legal challenge over the proposal to allow the state’s two horse-racing tracks to add slot machines.
The tribes and state have a long-standing agreement, which the state cannot break, that gives tribal casinos a monopoly. However, racino supporters say the machines would be part of the state lottery, which would be allowed.
The governor said the tribes would sue to protect their casinos, so the state’s take of any racino earnings would be delayed by what probably would be a long court fight.
Dayton touts allowing electronic pull tabs as his favored form of stadium financing.
The proposal would allow the traditional paper pull tab and bingo games used to make money for charities to use electronic devices. Supporters say the new devices would attract more people, with the state earning $60 million more a year. Charities and bars that host the games also would bring in more money, backers claim.
The new money the state would get is about twice as much as needed to pay off the state’s share of a stadium-construction loan.
If legislators decide they need to get involved in stadium construction, they must decide where the stadium would be located and, a more ticklish problem, how to fund it. In interviews with legislators around the state, racino frequently comes up as a prospect, but the concept has been around for years and never gained enough support to become law.
Many legislators appear to be willing to consider the e-pulltabs idea, or a related one that would allow state lottery machines in businesses.

Legislative Notebook: Assistant Calls Senjem Tough

New Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, can be as tough as anyone when he negotiates with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, one of his assistants said.