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Dissecting the latest stadium legal challenge

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: January 13, 2014 - 4:27 PM

A new legal challenge to the Vikings stadium legislation has held up the $486 million bond sale needed to pay for the massive facility. So what's the legal argument?

Doug Mann, a registered nurse, says that the stadium legislation violates a section of the Minnesota constitution by relying on Minneapolis sales taxes. More on that in a second.

This is Mann's second attempt to counter the stadium legislation in the courts. His first filing this fall argued that the use of city sales taxes should have triggered a referendum requirement in the city's charter.

Judge Phillip Bush ruled that it would have triggered the referendum, had the Legislature not explicitly overrode the city's charter. Bush therefore tossed the case.

Mann has returned with a new argument (see his legal memo), which he has made directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Specifically, he cites Article X, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. That section states: "The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away." The language is relatively common among state constitutions nationally.

He further cites an 1864 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling, saying "that a tax cannot be imposed exclusively on any subdivision of the state, to pay an indebtedness or claim which is not peculiarly the debt of such subdivision or to raise money for any purpose not peculiarly for the benefit of such subdivision."

In other words, a tax cannot be imposed on Minneapolis to pay for something "not peculiarly for the benefit" of Minneapolis.

That case, Sanborn vs. Commissioners of Rice County, ruled that the Legislature had unconstitutionally required Rice County to arbitrate a claim that John Sanborn had made against the Rice County school district.

Here is Mann's full legal memo, seeking a writ of prohibition:

Memorandum Mann vs Showalter, Cmmss'r Mn Mng't & Budget by eric_roper

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