Lillie: Senate will pass Vikings stadium bill; Bielenberg legislation on Dayton's deskThe man in charge of counting votes in the Minnesota Senate said the compromise Vikings stadium bill will make its way to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
The man in charge of counting votes in the Minnesota Senate said the compromise Vikings stadium bill will make its way to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.
Sen. Ted Lillie, R-Woodbury, who serves as majority whip for the Senate GOP caucus, said he expects there will be enough votes to pass the final draft of the bill through the chamber. The bill earlier this week passed in both the House and the Senate, though there were differences between the two bills.
Those differences were ironed out overnight by House and Senate conferees, who produced the compromise legislation. The House passed the bill early this morning; senators are debating the final bill now.
“I don’t expect many changes in positions,” Lillie said of Senate support.
That includes his position, which opposed the original Vikings bill. Lillie said he will not vote in support of the bill because he opposes the funding mechanism, which relies on expanded gaming in Minnesota.
“I am concerned about the gambling aspect of it,” he said.
The compromise bill calls for the Vikings to pay $477 million toward construction costs, $50 million more than they wanted. The $975 million Minneapolis stadium, on the site of the Metrodome, would have 65,000 seats, expandable to 72,000.
Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, voted against the compromise bill in the House, as did Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo.
Lillie said he would have supported the concept of user fees to help fund the stadium package, as well as bonding for the project.
“I just don’t believe (expanded gambling) is best for the people of Minnesota,” said Lillie, who confirmed he moved from Lake Elmo to Woodbury last week.
Woodbury officials this week were also keeping a close watch on the newest version of the tax bill, which was revived Wednesday after Dayton vetoed the original legislation.
Lillie said this time the bill was split into two parts, one of which seeks an exception for Woodbury from state law.
The Woodbury provision would create an exception in Minnesota law that currently requires cities to receive voter approval to fund construction projects involving municipal sports arenas. However, the city would have to face a referendum if a petition requesting the vote is signed by at least 5 percent of Woodbury voters.
If approved, the city would use existing bonding measures to fund an expansion at Bielenberg Sports Center.
The bill passed both the House and the Senate on Wednesday.
Lillie said Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, was in Dayton’s office late this morning advocating support of the new tax bill.
“We are doing everything we can to pull out the stops and encourage the governor to sign it this time,” Lillie said.