From funding the new Vikings stadium to the pushes for marriage equality and state money for a Mayo Clinic expansion, lawmakers at the state Capitol had a lot on their plate on Wednesday.
VIKINGS STADIUM FUNDING
Now that the state's portion of the funding for the new Vikings stadium is coming up short due to the underperformance of electronic pull-tabs, several solutions are bubbling up.
With revenues from e-gaming coming up millions short, Bloomington Rep. Ann Lensczewski presented a bill to the House Tax Committee that would impose a 10 percent sales tax on all sports memorabilia to come up with the remainder.
The bill would also extend the existing sales tax to luxury boxes and seat licenses.
Also on the House side of the Legislature, 14 Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would slash the state's share of the stadium by $200 million, which could effectively force the Vikings to put up more money.
Sen. Scott Neinow also introduced a bill on Wednesday that would halt the issuance of state bonds to pay for the stadium until a new revenue source is found.
MAYO CLINIC EXPANSION
Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy's recent remarks before the Washington Press Club put the plan to expand the Rochester facility in the hot seat on Wednesday.
While delivering a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday, Noseworthy said 49 other states would be eager to see the clinic expand in their borders if Minnesota won't pitch in.
Rep. Ron Lesch called the remark "dumb, dumb, dumb," and he admitted it may have cost the clinic his vote on the project.
On Wednesday, Dr. Bradly Narr took a very conciliatory tone before the tax committee, saying he would not threaten the room and insisting he wants to expand in Minnesota.
Mayo Clinic is asking the Legislature to help make Rochester a destination medical center, and it has promised to spend $3.5 billion on the expansion with another $2 billion in private money. The clinic estimates the project could create 25-30,000 jobs in the next 20 years, but they want the state to chip in $500 million toward infrastructure in the area.
They hope to amass that sum through a taxing authority in Rochester, but that idea faced some pushback in the committee. The chief sponsor of the expansion bill, Kim Norton, said they are working on a Plan B and will bring it back to the committee.
SHOW OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY SUPPORT
Although lawmakers are still weeks away from floor votes that could legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota, a number of political party leaders gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to vote in favor.
Leaders from the Green, Libertarian, Independence and Democratic parties united in their support for the Freedom to Marry effort.
The issue is still just as divisive as it was during the referendum vote that failed last fall, but DFL Chairman Ken Martin said he and the minor parties stand together on same-sex marriage.
"All of these parties up here have said with one very loud and clear voice to members in not only the Legislature bot other elected officials around the state that this is not a partisan issue," Martin said.
The Republican party was not present for that show of support; however, the Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement on Wednesday saying they too support the same-sex marriage bills in both chambers.