Vikings stadium bill heard, no vote

ST. PAUL -- The possibility of a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium caught the legislative spotlight Friday, but a House committee hearing the proposal took no vote.

ST. PAUL -- The possibility of a new Minnesota Vikings football stadium caught the legislative spotlight Friday, but a House committee hearing the proposal took no vote.

While he would support a vote in the full House, Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said he continues to doubt that a Vikings stadium has enough votes to pass. He said a University of Minnesota football field and a Minnesota Twins ballpark still have a better chance this legislative session.

The Vikings want a $1.5 billion stadium, retail and entertainment complex in Anoka County. The complex would be called "Northern Lights."

"This bill is about replacing the Metrodome," Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, said.

David Murphy, a partner with Kansas City-based Crawford Architects, said that the project would create 4,000 construction jobs and 9,000 permanent ones. It would dump about $14 million of sales tax into the state treasury annually, he added.


House OKs DL change

On a 100-28 vote, the House approved putting an immigrant's status on his driver's license.

While the idea already is being done under the Pawlenty administration, supporters say making it a law removes the chance of a future governor stopping the practice on a whim.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has pushed the driver's license status display as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants, saying it makes it easier to arrests people in the country illegally.

Health bill offered

A Sen. Dallas Sams' bill is designed to make Minnesota health insurance more affordable.

The Staples DFLer introduced a bill to:

E Establish a prescription drug discount program.


E Start a small employer buy-in option for MinnesotaCare, the state's insurance program for the poor.

E Increase the income limit for single adults and households without children to get state insurance aid.

E Increase coverage for self-employed farmers by changing how income is measured in determining MinnesotaCare eligibility.

E Raise the hospital inpatient reimbursement cap in order to account for health-care inflation.

About 375,000 Minnesotans don't have health insurance. Many are employed and Sams said small businesses need state help to afford insurance for their workers.

Medical pot OK'd

A Senate committee approved 5-4 to allow the use of marijuana for medical needs.

The bill would eliminate criminal penalties for the seriously ill who use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, a candidate for governor.


"Patients battling cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or other painful and deadly illnesses should not have to risk arrest and jail if their doctor believes marijuana may ease their suffering," Kelley said. "This legislation protects the sick, while establishing sensible controls."

Kelley brought patients who told committee members that marijuana is the only thing that relieved their pain.

"I have tried numerous prescription medicines to alleviate pain and nausea but achieved little or no relief, not to mention unhealthy side effects. Marijuana has been the only medicine I have found to ease my pain and restore my appetite." said Don Haumant, a Minnesota resident who has been living with liver disease for more than 30 years. "When I use a small amount of medical marijuana, my body does not know my actions are not OK under Minnesota law. What is clear is that I look and feel healthier."

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