Senate committee in stadium stalemate

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After its fifth consecutive day of meeting, the Minnesota Senate Tax Committee still is deadlocked over an on-camus Gophers football stadium bill.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, who is chairman of the committee, introduced his version of Gopher stadium plans to the committee Thursday.

Since Thursday the committee has voted on the bill three times. Each role-call vote ended in a 6-6 tie.

Richard Pfutzenreuter, University chief financial officer, said the stalemate is not about the stadium plans in and of themselves.

“Concerns are not about our proposal. They’re more about who’s going to get credit, it seems,” Pfutzenreuter said.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said the two views of what the bill should look like are delaying the process.

“It’s obvious that the Republicans are very dead-set on passing the bill that passed the House,” Maturi said. “The Democrats want to find a way to pay for it before passing it out of the Tax Committee.”

The issues in the committee focused more on financial concerns of some members, Pogemiller said after Thursday’s meeting.

“There are a number of members that would prefer not to pay for the stadium,” he said. “They want to act like they’re for the stadium but don’t want to pay for it.”

On the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, attempted to bring his version of the bill out of Senate Finance Committee and straight to the Senate floor.

“What I tried to do was to pull the Gopher stadium issue onto the Senate floor and get it out of this committee process where the Gopher stadium seems to be getting tangled up with a combination of politics and the Twins and Vikings stadiums,” Michel said.

This measure would bypass the Senate Tax Committee altogether.

However, the measure failed 27-40, leaving Michel’s stadium bill in committee.

The only action taken on Pogemiller’s bill during committee hearings Monday was to return a statewide sports-related tax to the bill.

The committee was to vote on the original bill again and also planned to consider deleting the language in the bill to reflect Michel’s version, Pogemiller said.

With a May 22 deadline three weeks away, stadium supporters are starting to worry about the holdup in the tax committee.

Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, who is vice chairman of the Tax Committee, said Thursday that a tie vote on the bill could take a while to work through.

“Unless order comes from the top to loosen up some votes, it looks like we’ll be at a stalemate for a while here,” he said.

If the bill does pass through the committee, its next step is the Senate floor.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s signature on a Gophers stadium bill by the session’s end is the goal, Pfutzenreuter said.

“I guess we just have to be patient and just keep the pressure on to get the bill passed.”

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