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Is A Special Session Of The Minnesota Legislature A Possibility?

For those of you that don't follow Minnesota politics on a regular basis, consider yourself lucky. The Minnesota legislature is a part time legislature, which means they are only in session from January to May each year. And with the way they have been running things the last couple of decades, that's a good thing. It's hard to imagine what kind of destruction a full time body could unleash upon the state, but I digress.

So, as you may know, the Minnesota Legislature adjourns for the year on Monday, but they have to do a few things before they can. Like, you know, pass a budget so the state can operate for the rest of the year. If they don't finish all of their mandatory business, or if there are, according to the Minnesota Constitution, 'extraordinary occasions', the Governor may call a special session of the legislature.

So let's look at the history of 'Special Sessions', and see whether or not the Vikings bill would constitute Governor Dayton invoking the extraordinary occasion clause to do it. Personally, I think he should be able to call a 'Shenanigans' clause on Minneapolis, but the Constitution was apparently written before 'South Park', so that's out.

So, according to this document here, produced by the non-partisan Research Department of the Minnesota House of Representatives, a special session may be called by the Governor if:

The legislature has not completed work on vital legislation during the time allowed for the regular session, or
Changed circumstances require urgent legislative action after the regular session ends

Now let's look at the history of special sessions called by the Governor to resolve issues. In the history of the great state of Minnesota, there have been 46 special sessions called, 47 if you want to count one when Minnesota was still a territory. The special session used to be, well, special. From 1857-1992, there had been 32 special sessions called, or one about every four years. Since 1993, there have been 14 special sessions called, an average of one special session every year and a half.

Out of all those special sessions, there has been only addressed stadium issues. Every other one is for flood relief, state finances, budget, etc. The stadium special session was for a Twins stadium, and the only thing that came out of it was nothing more than a resolution telling Minnesota's US Congressional delegation, among other things, to allow communities to own franchises and stop franchises from moving. Oooooh, tough stuff, that.

So in other words, they passed a resolution that resolved least when it came to the stadium issue. If you remember, that resolution worked swimmingly, as the Twins were nearly contracted 4 years later.

When you look at the nature and reasoning behind special sessions, I don't know that a Vikings stadium rises to the level of an 'extraordinary occasion', but that's if you look at it from a sports only perspective. If you look at it as a revenue issue, a jobs bill, a road improvement bill, or a tax revenue stream bill, then your view might change completely. One might say 'extraordinarily'. See what I did there? Follow me on this.

Revenue Issue: Currently, the Vikings produce $20 million/yr in tax revenue to the state of Minesota, and over the life of the proposed 30 year lease, the new stadium would produce $1.8 billion, with a b...billion in revenue. So $300 million up front nets you over a billion dollars? Yeah, that's extraordinary.

Jobs Issue: This article here is only one of many that touts 7,500 construction jobs over a three year period. With construction unemployment in the Twin Cities in double digits, putting 7,500 people to work seems like an extraordinary thing. And that goes directly back to the revenue issue. Those are 7,500 more people paying payroll taxes and providing to the state coffers.

Road Improvement Bill: Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that makes driving in the Twin Cities easier would be extraordinary indeed. I-494 is the Devil's Highway, and trying to get anywhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul is an exercise in frustration. These road improvements were scheduled to be done by MnDOT anyway, so what does it matter if they get done sooner rather than later? Now, if there are critical, potentially life threatening conditions on roads and bridges that need to get done anywhere in the state, they obviously get the priority. But shuffling an extra lane from south Minneapolis to St. Paul? Big deal.

Tax Revenue Stream: All roads lead to money. And in this case, lots of it. This stadium will be a cash cow, for both the state and Wilf. If you look at the potential of the Arden Hills site, it's not unreasonable to think that hundreds of jobs, increased property values, and increased tax revenue from hotels and retail shops could double that $1 billion dollar figure in short order. If you look at trends in the NFL, teams that get new stadiums get at least one Super Bowl. The NFL says a Super Bowl is good for a $400 million boost to the local economy; these guys here say it's about a quarter of that...but that's still $100 million bucks, or one-third of the state's commitment...for one event. I would guees that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, so let's say $200 million. There are also NCAA Final Fours, maybe a Big Ten Conference Championship game, and a variety of concerts and other events that will fill the state's coffers. Revenue, by the way, that the state will need to make up if the Vikings leave, Minnesota taxpayer.

How is any of that NOT extraordinary?