05/18/2004 4:22 PM ET
Special session for ballpark bill?
Pawlenty could call lawmakers back to St. Paul
By Patrick Donnelly / MLB.com
Minnesotans from Austin to International Falls are frustrated with the state legislature for getting stuck in partisan gridlock and failing to accomplish much of note during the recent session that ended on Monday morning.
And once again, the House and Senate did not pass a bill to fund a new ballpark for the team.
"Obviously, it's a disappointment. I don't think we're ready to throw in the towel yet, though," said Jerry Bell, president of Twins Sports Inc.
Bell expressed hope that Gov. Tim Pawlenty could call a special session to deal with unresolved issues.
"Until we know for certain, we'll keep our hopes up."
The stadium bill advanced through three committees in the House of Representatives before it was derailed by a 13-13 vote in the Ways and Means Committee on May 7. The bill's sponsors had 10 days to find a way to get the bill reintroduced and passed by that committee, but the reintroduction did not happen.
The Senate version of the bill made some preliminary progress, but it was tabled before it reached the Senate floor for a full vote once the House bill hit its fatal snag.
The stadium bill was stalled by the ongoing debate over the state bonding bill and the state budget. Those two issues took higher priority, and because neither of them were resolved by May 17, the stadium issue never had a chance to be resurrected.
The only hope for the bill passing this year would be a special session called by Gov. Pawlenty, which he had hoped to avoid because of the expense tied to bringing lawmakers back to St. Paul. The governor would only order the special session if he thought progress on outstanding issues was likely, and that won't be known until the legislators are given a bit of a cooling-off period after the heated rhetoric that marked the end of the session.
"Right now, I don't know the answer to that -- there may be (a special session) and there may not," Bell said. "If there is, once again I think there is a chance that the legislature and governor would be willing to finish the debate on the stadium issue, but we'll just have to wait and see."
Bell said that delaying the approval of a stadium bill will hit Minnesotans in the pocketbook, because construction costs continue to rise, interest rates fluctuate and the state's budget forecast remains cloudy.
"I think (legislators) are concerned about it," Bell said, "but I'm not sure everyone fully appreciates the magnitude of the cost increases."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.