As we head into the final stages of 2011, I would like to give you an update of what has been happening at the Capitol in St. Paul over the past few months. One of the biggest issues that has been discussed in the news on an almost daily basis is the possibility of a special session to discuss the prospects for a new Vikings stadium. A handful of funding proposals were introduced during the legislative session, but none ever gained enough traction for a committee vote in either house of the legislature.
Conversations started to pick up last month when Gov. Dayton stated that he would introduce his own Vikings stadium plan in early November. He also had discussed his desire for a special legislative session before the Thanksgiving holiday if legislative leaders were in agreement with him on a stadium plan. At this point, discussions have stalled out and the potential for a special session isn’t as clear as it was a few weeks ago.
However, late last week a letter signed by myself and a group of bi-partisan legislators was delivered to the Governor stating our support for the passage of a bill to authorize racinos at the state’s two horse racing tracks. The revenue generated by these racinos would assist in helping to fund the non-private portion of the Vikings stadium construction. In addition, the bill would provide for a portion of the repayment of school shift dollars to school districts across the state. It will also provide economic development for the hospitality industry, the construction industry, and every agricultural county in Greater Minnesota. Lastly, the proposal invests money directly into equine development to support non-racing breeds of horses. In my opinion, this is a very solid plan that I hope is given serious consideration by the Governor as it addresses important issues that I have previously worked very hard for during my time at the legislature.
Here is a link for you to review a copy of the letter that was sent to the Governor: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/senators/13Gimse/update/E-News/2011%20E-News/Letter%20to%20Gov.%20Dayton%20-%20Racino%2011-4-11_1.pdf
In transportation related news, I have been involved in multiple meetings and tours over the course of the past month. As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I feel it is very important for you to know who I have been meeting with and what issues we have been discussing as we begin our preparation for the 2012 legislative session. Below is a summary and description of my recent tours:
– The MnROADS Materials Testing Facility located near Albertville
– The I-35W bridge by Mn/DOT and the University of Minnesota
– The NuStar Petroleum Terminal in Roseville
– A transit related tour of the Central Corridor light rail line in St. Paul and Minneapolis, the proposed Interchange station at Target Field in Minneapolis, and the proposed SouthWest light rail transit line that would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie
Over the past month, I have attended meetings held by the Legislative Energy Commission, of which I am a member, as well as the Legislative Commission on Metropolitan Government. In addition, I have met with representatives from the Minnesota Transportation Alliance, the Minnesota Public Transportation Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the Minnesota Deputy Registrar’s Association.
This week, I will be taking a tour of Mn/DOT’s district headquarters in Duluth, speaking at the Minnesota Transportation Alliance’s (MTA) annual meeting, and taking a tour of Delta’s operations at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Accompanying me on these visits will be House Transportation Committee Chairman Mike Beard.
As some of you may recall, I toured a handful of the Mn/DOT district area headquarters with Rep. Beard towards the end of the 2011 legislative session. The purpose of the Mn/DOT district headquarters tour is to meet with the district engineers, as well as other Mn/DOT staff, to learn about their operations and find out what the top transportation issues are in their part of the state. In regard to the MTA annual meeting, I will be addressing their membership which consists of contractors, suppliers and engineering firms. We will discuss the upcoming 2012 legislative session, as well as what the future of the transportation construction industry looks like in the long-term. And lastly, the tour and meeting at Delta will be an opportunity for us to meet with their management team to discuss their operations in Minnesota and what their presence means to the economic vitality of the region and state.
If you have any questions about the tour or what is happening here at the Capitol, please do not hesitate to contact me. As always, I appreciate the opportunity to represent you in St. Paul and welcome any feedback.
State Senator, District 13
Transportation Policy & Finance Chair
303 Minnesota State Capitol
St. Paul, MN 55155
Office: (651) 296-3826