Special session menu fails

by Jeannine Aquino

Despite Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s letter to legislative leaders last week about a potential special session, a Gophers stadium is still far from becoming a reality.

Legislative leaders did not take well to Pawlenty’s set of conditions and agenda for a possible special session. Pawlenty set a deadline for leaders to respond by Tuesday.

Leaders, including House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, State Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, and House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, replied Tuesday, but none outlined issues to discuss for a special session.

“I asked the governor to show some leadership instead of sending menus,” Entenza said. “I thought that filling out a questionnaire was ridiculous.”

Day’s letter also indicated an unenthusiastic response to Pawlenty’s special session checklist, stating “there is no support of a majority of our members for any of the items on your menu.”

Brian McClung, Pawlenty’s press secretary, said the governor wanted to make the process simple.

“From the governor’s perspective, it’s put-up or shut-up time when it comes to a special session,” McClung said.

Pawlenty was to meet with leaders Thursday to talk about a special session.

Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, author of the Gophers stadium bill, said he’s “encouraged that the governor is going to meet with legislative leaders.”

“These are difficult issues, and they should be decided face to face, not through the mail,” he said.

Asked what should be done about the Gophers stadium proposal, Michel said he would encourage people to consider holding a one-day University session with no legislator pay.

“One day. No pay. Gophers only,” Michel said.

Though legislators have not decided on special session topics, University Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he still has hope for an on-campus stadium.

“I still believe the proposal we have in front of the Legislature and the people of Minnesota is a very good thing,” Maturi said. “It’s the right thing for the University and this state at this time.”

Lora Pabst contributed to this report.