Legislative Notebook: The Stars Come Out For Stadium Funding

Sullivan, Greenway, Peterson

By Don Davis and Danielle Nordine

A visit by three big-name Vikings football players created a ruckus in the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon as lawmakers considered whether to build a new stadium for the team’s 10 home games a year and other events.

While a committee debating the fate of a Vikings stadium proposal was in recess, running back Adrian Peterson, center John Sullivan and linebacker Chad Greenway met with Gov. Mark Dayton and lobbied others for a new home.

“It’s a team effort,” Peterson said, surrounded by media.

All three thanked lawmakers for their work on the stadium issue, and Peterson said he knows lawmakers “have tough decisions to make.”

“We’re just here to let these guys know we support them,” Peterson said.

Media followed the players as they made their way through the Capitol, stopping to chat with lawmakers and visitors.

The players are interested in supporting the stadium efforts and wanted to visit the Capitol, Vikings Vice President Lester Bagley said.

“It kind of reaffirmed how important the team is to this market,” he said. “It’s a reminder of what this is about.”

Even senators talked about star sightings.

Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, tweeted about his close encounter with Peterson, along a photo showing the star player walking past the freshman senator: “AP blows past Sen. Howe, someone should tell him that I serve on the Tax Committee.”

Later, Howe tweeted: “Private elevator meeting with players, told AP he outran his coverage on his way into the Capitol.”

Executive Vice President Eric Grubman of the National Football League also lobbied for a stadium Wednesday, and plans to return Thursday.

Gurbman, in St. Paul for the second time in a week, said he talked to lawmakers from both parties to answer questions. He said he did not solicit support.

He said he returned because passage of a stadium-construction bill appeared near and he wanted to be available.

He said he hopes there is a vote by the full House and Senate: “Failing to take a vote is the same as voting ‘no.’”

No session deal

Minnesota lawmakers may meet just four more days this year, but Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that he and legislative leaders have yet to discuss specific issues that the two sides want to pass.

Dayton and legislative leaders met Tuesday and Wednesday, but the Democratic governor said they mostly talked in generalities.

“I am kind of waiting for them to proceed,” Dayton said about Republicans who control the Legislature.

The governor added: “This is the time to be patient.”

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said there may be no overall deal to end this session, unlike a year ago when the governor and leaders needed to hammer out a budget agreement.

“It is kind of the nature of this year,” he said.

A public works funding bill, financed by the state selling bonds, remains possible, Zellers said. Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, is working to get the needed votes from both parties, he added.

“We want to bring up a bill that passes,” Zellers said, remembering a Capitol building repair bill that failed last week by a single vote.

Dayton said Wednesday that he will not sign a bill dumping the teacher seniority system, one of the GOPs biggest priorities.

A Republican wish to lower business property taxes is up for discussion, Dayton said.

“I am open to discussion on almost any topic,” he said.

Not quite ready

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that he has not decided whether to sign a bill allowing more powerful fireworks and those that shoot into the air.

He said he plans a Thursday meeting with bill authors Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, and Sen. Michael Jungbauer, R-East Bethel.

In the meantime, three Twin Cities medical leaders sent Dayton a letter urging him to veto the legislation.

“The death rate and property damage from consumer fireworks strongly correlates with the strength or permissiveness of state fireworks laws,” they said.

School money change

Legislators approved a compromise bill Wednesday that supporters say will send more money to schools across the state.

The House vote was 110-21 and the Senate 42-20.

The measure is designed to earn more money from school trust lands, mostly in northern Minnesota. The land was set aside so money could be earned for schools.

It requires the state to have a trust land manager in the Department of Natural Resources. His main job would be to make sure the land makes as much money as possible for schools.

Rep. Tom Rukavina applauded the change, saying the DNR long has ignored making profit from the land.

“I will tell you where the money grab has been for the last 26 years, it has been everybody turning a blind eye to the kids,” Rukavina said.

Liquor bill OK

Gov. Mark Dayton said he will sign an overall liquor bill that includes provisions to allow beer sales at the University of Minnesota football stadium.

A compromise allows sales in stadium suites and a beer garden.