Dayton trying to meet with Zellers to discuss special session

With MPR’s Tim Nelson…

Gov. Dayton hopes to meet with GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and other legislative leaders to discuss an e-mail Zellers sent to GOP House members yesterday. The e-mail said Zellers does not support a special session to pass a financing plan for a new Vikings stadium. That could scuttle any efforts to get a Vikings stadium bill passed this year, because the Vikings want a deal in place before the team’s lease with the Metrodome expires in January. Zellers has not returned repeated calls to comment about his e-mail.

Dayton initially called a news conference for 11 a.m. to discuss the e-mail but canceled it after he spoke privately with Zellers.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, and Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, both say they support Zellers decision to oppose a special session.

“I think the speaker reflects the will of the majority of the House of Representatives,” Garofalo said. “Clearly any bill’s going to require bipartisan support and as of right now, I’m not aware of any House Democrat who has stated his support for a special session.”

Meanwhile, Minnesota Vikings officials say they’re disappointed by the Zellers e-mail. Vikings vice president Lester Bagley said the team doubts the wisdom of putting off legislative action until next year’s short legislative session.

“The strategy of avoiding the stadium issue in Minnesota has not worked,” Bagley said. “It only gets more costly, more difficult to resolve, especially if the state allows the lease to expire with no action, Bagley said. “The lease expires in less than 90 days, and at that point we will be the only NFL team without a lease. So we believe this needs to get into focus before the lease expires at the end of the season.”

The team has proposed a $1.1 billion dollar stadium in Arden Hills, although that was thrown in doubt yesterday, when Dayton and legislative leaders ruled out a sales tax contribution to the deal by Ramsey County.

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