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Final stadium bill nullifies key section of city charter

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: May 10, 2012 - 10:09 AM

The final Vikings stadium bill, passed by the House early this morning, includes language that nullifies a key section of the Minneapolis city charter.

The legislation features catch-all language that ensures Minneapolis voters will not take a vote on the final stadium deal, despite a requirement in the city's charter. That charter requirement has been the biggest sticking point in gaining support for the deal in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal argued the stadium plan did not trigger the charter referendum requirement anyway, but the bill essentially prevents anyone from challenging that argument in court.

It also means that the Minneapolis City Council, when it takes up the Vikings stadium legislation next week, will vote to nullify sections of the city's own charter.

City leaders including Council President Barb Johnson argued that the charter nullification was only necessary to avoid a vote on Target Center upgrades. But while an earlier version of the bill limited the language to Target Center, the final language was widened to include the stadium.

Segal says the stadium would not have triggered a referendum because the state is merely reclaiming its own money. Opponents say that argument does not hold water.

Here's the final version of the bill:

41.10 Sec. 4. CHARTER LIMITATIONS, REQUIREMENTS NOT TO APPLY.
41.11Any amounts expended, indebtedness, or obligation incurred including, but not
41.12limited to, the issuance of bonds, or actions taken by the city under this act, are deemed
41.13not an expenditure or other use of city resources within the meaning of any law or charter
41.14provision. The city may exercise any of its powers under this act to spend, borrow, tax, or
41.15incur any form of indebtedness or other obligation for the improvement, including, but not
41.16limited to, acquisition, development, construction, or betterment of any public building,
41.17stadium, or other capital improvement project, without regard to any charter limitation,
41.18requirement, or provision, including any referendum requirement. Any tax exemption
41.19established under this act shall be deemed not an expenditure or other use of city resources
41.20within the meaning of any charter provision.

Here's a previous Senate version (emphasis added):

38.26 Sec. 4. CHARTER LIMITATIONS NOT TO APPLY.
38.27Nothing in this act shall be construed to preempt, override, or waive any charter
38.28provision, including any provisions requiring a referendum on professional NFL facility
38.29financing. Any amounts expended, indebtedness or obligation incurred including, but
38.30not limited to, the issuance of bonds, or actions taken by the city under this article for
38.31the Target Center are not deemed an expenditure or other use of city resources within
38.32the meaning of any law or charter limitation. The city may exercise any of its powers
38.33under this article regarding the Target Center to spend, borrow, tax, or incur any form
38.34of indebtedness or other obligation, for the improvement, including, but not limited to,
38.35acquisition, development, construction, or betterment, of any public building, stadium, or
39.1other capital improvement project, without regard to any charter limitation or provision.
39.2Any tax exemption regarding the Target Center established under this article shall not be
39.3deemed an expenditure or other use of city resources within the meaning of any charter
39.4limitation.

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