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Can stadium success be a lawmaking model?

  • Blog Post by: Lori Sturdevant
  • May 11, 2012 - 3:54 PM

The Citizens League's Sean Kershaw asked a question Friday that's been on my mind too: Could the process used to enact the Vikings stadium bill be a model for more lawmaking success stories in the future? 

"The question is whether the bipartisanship and hard work we saw at the end of the session -- whatever you think of the stadium deal -- can be applied to issues that really matter to our future economic health and quality of life," Kershaw said in a post-session release.

Truth is, the Capitol is witness to a lot of hard work and effort on those "issues that really matter" -- educational quality, health care, fair taxation, an adequate safety net for the poor.

But unlike the stadium issue this year, those topics are typically approached by partisan teams of legislators bound to craft bills and vote for them in party blocs. That wasn't the case with the stadium bill. It's one of the few high-profile bills in which leaders stepped back and allowed their caucus members to choose their own positions.

That made for some messy, ad hoc dealmaking and late nights on the House and Senate floors. But the vote in the end reflected the will of the entire Legislature, not of the majority of one caucus or the other.

Kershaw and the Citizens League are advocates of changes in the state's lawmaking procedures to open up decision-making to more stakeholders. I'm wonk enough to listen with interest, and will report about those ideas in future posts.

For now, I'll note that procedural changes in tradition-bound institutions are hard to achieve. But leaders learning that not all lawmaking has to be a clash of partisan teams?

 That can happen. Maybe it just did.

 

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