I know that today is Friday the 13th, but when I first saw the headline from this story by the folks from Minnesota Public Radio, I thought that we might have turned the clock back to April Fools Day.
Yes, there is another reason for optimism coming across the wire today. . .and it's coming from the most unlikely of sources.
In his strongest comments to date, Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers is suggesting the Minnesota House could vote on a Vikings stadium plan before the end of session. Zellers, who has been reluctant to commit to whether the House would vote on such a plan, now says there's a likelihood it can happen. In an interview with MPR News, Zellers said the Vikings stadium bill cleared both the House Commerce Committee and the House Rules Committee in the past few weeks.
"We've said all along that if it continues to move through the process, which last week with some pretty good pace, moving through two committees in one week is a lot better pace than you've seen so far," Zellers said. "We're committed to a fair process, and if it can move along like that and continues to move along like that, I think you'll see a vote this year."
Yes, the same Kurt Zellers who appeared to have been stalling and taking his time to ensure that this stadium bill wouldn't make it to a vote in the full house, appears to have done a 180 on the matter and now thinks it's going to get pushed through.
Apparently the big issue for Zellers. . .or the big issue that he's declaring in the public forum, anyway. . .was the backup funding sources for the stadium if the use of electronic pull tabs doesn't generate enough money to cover the state's contribution. Now that said backup plan is in place, apparently Zellers thinks the bill is sufficient to get pushed through. It also probably helps that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership have ramped up their lobbying efforts, according to the article.
The House has expressed a desire to adjourn this year's legislative session by 30 April, which would leave about two weeks. . .everyone's on a break for the Easter/Passover holiday, and they're scheduled to come back to St. Paul on Monday. The latest the session can go is 21 May, according to the Minnesota constitution.
In fact, it appears that we've already got the date for the next Committee hearing.
Stadium bill to be heard Monday, April 16, in House Government Operations Committee.— Jeff Anderson (@andersonj) April 13, 2012
Can this thing get done? Hopefully. . .it certainly seems that there are enough people that want it to get done at this point where it appears there could be a pretty strong push for it.