Legislative activities were put on hold on Wednesday as lawmakers honored the life of Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls). Kubly, a 15-year veteran of the Legislature, died March 2nd after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease. All Senate committee hearings and most meetings in the House  were cancelled Wednesday to allow legislators to attend the funeral in Granite Falls.

Governor Dayton announced Wednesday that a special election will be held Tuesday, April 10th to fill Kubly’s seat. If necessary, a primary election will be held Tuesday, March 27th. Local party units are meeting this weekend and candidates will emerge early next week.                                                                                                                                          

Stadium Bill To Be Introduced Monday

A Vikings Stadium bill will be introduced in the House and Senate on Monday. SF 2391, authored by Senate Majority Leader David Senjem (R-Rochester), Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) will be the Senate stadium vehicle. A press conference was held last week to announce that an agreement had been reached between the team, the State, and the City of Minneapolis. About half of the funding for the $975 million stadium would come from the Vikings. Thirty-five percent of the funding would come from the State, paid for by charitable electronic pull-tabs. The City would chip in 15% from downtown sales taxes.

The bills still need to go through a lengthy committee process. Senjem and Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) have both said they believe a stadium bill will need to be fully vetted. Lawmakers must act fast as the first committee deadline, “for committees to act favorably on bills in the house of origin”, is Friday, March 16th at midnight.

Constitutional Amendments

HF 2738, the companion to the Senate’s bill proposing a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification to vote, had its first hearing this week. The bill, authored by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), was passed in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee after a 9-6 vote and sent to the House Ways and Means Committee. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who has already appeared three times before Senate committees on the issue, testified in opposition to the bill.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 34-30 to move SF 1705,  the “Right-to-Work” constitutional amendment, from the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The move was requested by Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville), the author of the bill, to send it to a friendlier committee. If the bill passes, voters will see this question on the November 2012 ballot: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not join a labor union, and to pay or not pay dues to a labor union?”. All DFLers and Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) voted against moving the bill. The Judiciary Committee will hear the bill Monday morning at 8 a.m.