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House Speaker Kurt Zellers, right, said debate about building a Vikings stadium took the life out of most other isues in the just-adjourned Minnesota legislative session. With Zellers is House Majority Leader Matt Dean. DON DAVIS | BEMIDJI PIONEER

Capitol Chatter: New purple politicos learn legislative lessons

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ST. PAUL -- It was easy to tell Capitol regulars from those who do not hang out under the marble dome so much as the 2012 legislative session came to an end: one group wore purple paint and jerseys.

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Oh, and that group tended to sing "Skol, Vikings."

Capitol regulars understand how a bill really becomes law. Cartoon books featuring a sheet of paper with legs, arms and big eyes that school children receive on Capitol tours, or see on the Internet, do not explain all the ins and outs. As far as that goes, college government classes miss a lot of what really goes on in the Capitol.

One thing the purple crowd learned is that if legislative leaders want a bill to advance to the full House and Senate, one way to make it easier is to convince committee chairmen to allow votes to be handled by voice, not with recorded roll calls.

That, fans learned, allows a chairman more leeway in deciding which side won. And no legislator is on record as favoring or opposing such a controversial matter.

The purple people also may have learned that what Minnesotans want really does count in the Capitol.

Legislator after legislator said more calls and emails arrived on the stadium issue than any other, almost all in favor of a new facility. Those contacts helped sway lawmakers on the fence and even convinced some opposed to the stadium plan to get out of the way.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, may be the reason the stadium passed, a credit he might not want. Zellers said he supports the Vikings, but not the stadium proposal brought by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead,

Still, Zellers eventually agreed to pave the way for a full House vote. He had plenty of power to stop any vote on the project he opposed.

But he was pressured. Businesses make up much of his political base and many business owners wanted the stadium approved. And since a majority of Minnesotans consider themselves Vikings fans, being seen as the one person who prevented a stadium from being built would not be politically smart.

Supporters of construction projects around the state are trying to get some of the nearly $50 million lawmakers set aside for grants, but the Senate author of the bill says the provision really was written for his hometown.

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, told his community's business leaders that the money is a good fit for a Mayor Civic Center expansion, Heather Carlson of the Post-Bulletin of Rochester reported.

To qualify for some of the funds, to be awarded by the Democratic Dayton administration, a project must bring money into Minnesota from elsewhere and create jobs.

"I don't know if you could have written criteria that more closely identifies with Mayo Civic Center," Senjem said.

The senator said politics would be to blame if Rochester does not get a $35 million piece of the pie.

Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud all wanted money to expand civic centers, but Senjem said that the Republican-controlled Legislature would not approve three such projects.

In all, more than $2 billion worth of projects were submitted for public works financing, with almost $500 million eventually awarded.

U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, a 17-year veteran airline pilot, says the next terrorist attack on an airplane is more likely to come from the ground because airport security has made planes safer.

Politico reports the Minnesota Republican told John Sammon of the Transportation Security Administration: "I'm going to tell you right now, the next incident will come from the ground; it's going to come from the shadow of the aircraft. It's not going to go through the passenger terminal,"

Cravaack said at a congressional hearing that his pilot background has attracted lots of people's opinions on the issue, and many have indicated to him that ground security "is a joke."

The House homeland security committee plans a hearing to discuss that ground security.

Candidates for this year's election may file as early as Tuesday, and must have their paperwork handed in by 5 p.m. June 5.

Elections this year include state races, such as for the Legislature, as well as county and judicial races. All eight U.S. House seats are open, along with one U.S. Senate position.

Most candidates may file in the Secretary of State's office or their local county elections office, but congressional hopefuls must file with the secretary of state and county candidates must file with their county auditors.

Filing dates vary for candidates for municipal and school district offices.

Beginning Tuesday, the secretary of state's Web site (www.sos.state.mn.us) will list candidates who have filed.

The primary election is Aug. 14, the general election Nov. 6.

Gov. Mark Dayton sent a message after the 2012 Legislature adjourned seeking money to elect fellow Democratic-Farmer-Laborites to state office.

"The Republicans' main 'accomplishment' was another wrong-minded and divisive constitutional amendment that would make it harder for law-abiding citizens -- students, seniors and veterans -- to cast ballots," Dayton wrote. "Minnesota deserves much better."

Dayton said the party needs to raise $22,000 by May 31 to meet its goal.

"We can, and must, move forward," the governor wrote. "With DFL majorities, we will."

Veteran Republican political operative Andy Parrish is a new consultant for Lee Byberg's congressional campaign.

Byberg is challenging long-time U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in western Minnesota's 7th Congressional District.

Parrish has worked in Minnesota and Washington, including serving as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's chief of staff. He ran Bachmann's campaigns in 2006 and 2010.

"Lee has a fantastic message of limited government and more freedom," Parrish said.

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