Legislative Notebook: Legislators Wait For Ramsey, Minneapolis Stadium Plans

Minnesota legislators are in the third week of what many leaders say will be a 10-week legislative session, but plenty of questions remain about constructing a Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said a group of legislators working on the stadium issue is awaiting information from Ramsey County and Minneapolis about their stadium proposals.

“How soon that will happen, I don’t know,” he said Wednesday.

Lanning and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, head the legislative stadium effort.

Momentum has been in favor a site next to the downtown Minneapolis Metrodome, but Lanning said that he does not know how the new site can be vetted quickly. Even though it is next to the Metrodome, where some Minneapolis officials propose a new stadium, there are enough differences that Lanning said the site needs more study.

Ramsey County and the Vikings want a stadium in Arden Hills, and Lanning said the county may come up with a funding proposal this week.

The question for legislators is whether they can get the information in time to pass a stadium construction bill this legislative session. Lanning said the deadline he faces is March 16, when committees must initially pass bills.

Besides waiting for answers, Republican stadium supporters and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton may need to resolve some tension.

Last week, Dayton said Republican Senate leaders are “unfit to govern” after Rosen led a successful effort to fire a Dayton appointee.

“I understand his being upset,” Lanning said, adding “I feel he overreacted. … That comment was not helpful.”

Lanning said he considers the dust-up “water over the dam,” but he could not predict its eventual impact.

“He let his temper get the best of him,” Lanning said of the governor.

Dayton defends release

Gov. Mark Dayton tells House Republican leaders that his administration must release a sex offender, even though House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean called the move “reckless” and plan to convene legislative hearings on the topic.

Last week, a judicial panel ordered Clarence Opheim, 64, to be let out of a state sex offender treatment program and moved to a St. Paul halfway house.

Opheim has spent 36 years in prison and the treatment program for multiple sex offenses.

Dayton Wednesday wrote to Zellers, R-Maple Grove, and Dean, R-Dellwood, to say state law requires Opheim to be released. The law only allows a sex offender to be held for treatment until he “he is determined to have completed treatment and can be carefully supervised in a setting outside of an institution,” Dayton wrote. Law does not allow sex offenders to be confined for life.

Opheim is the first person to be released from treatment.

Dayton said Opheim will be under constant 24-hour electronic surveillance and live in a halfway house staffed full time.

The Democratic governor said he is willing to work with Republican leaders if they want to craft a bill to keep sex offenders imprisoned for life.

Regent delay suggested

Four Democratic representatives introduced a bill to ban legislators from serving on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for two years after they leave the Legislature.

Democrats have been critical of Republicans for electing former House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and Rep. Laura Brod, R-New Prague, soon after leaving the House.