At Issue: SWLR Delays and Government Shutdown Implications

Updated: 10/21/2013 5:43 PM By: Heidi Enninga

In this week’s edition of At Issue, host Tom Hauser takes an in-depth look at the local political issues that affect you.

The decision on where to route the new Southwest light rail line is pitting city against city, and now the $1.5 million project is on hold. The met council was supposed to vote on a proposal this week, but facing opposition from Minneapolis, they put it off. The plan would have run the line through shallow tunnels in the Kenilworth corridor. The decision to delay the vote for another 90 days means construction could also be delayed, and that could increase the cost of the project.

The city of St. Paul and the Saint Paul Saints reached a tentative agreement on a lease for a new downtown ballpark. The unique deal includes profit sharing between the team and the city. The team keeps the first $500,000 of any profit and after that, the city would get 5 to 10 percent of the net annual revenue.

The new Minnesota Vikings stadium will undergo further review by the Legislative Commission on Sports Facilities at a meeting on Thursday. Among the topics to be discussed is how to make sure that the taxpayer stadiums like Target Center, Xcel Energy Center, and the new Vikings stadium don’t compete with each other for hosting events since underbidding doesn’t serve the taxpayer.

The bipartisan group that included Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar got some credit for bringing an end to the federal government shutdown. The group of six Democrats and six Republicans came up with the framework for that deal. The government will face a similar problem at the end of this year.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann isn’t running again for her office as a Minnesota representative. This week, the politicians who are vying to take her place released fundraising numbers. Tom Emmer raised $150,000 in the third quarter, the highest of any contender and $275,000 total. That’s slightly less than fundraising front-runner Phil Krinkie who has raised $315,000 so far. College of St. Benedict political science professor Jim Read also joined the 6th district race this week.

With the Minnesota Orchestra lockout passing the one-year mark, Democratic Rep. Phyillis Kahn authored a bill that would have at least 50 percent of the orchestra to be sold to the public.

In the first two weeks of the state’s new health insurance exchange, 3,700 people have signed up. That number represents those who have finalized their enrollment or are waiting for their payments to be processed. Mnsure officials said they expect the pace of enrollment to pick up.

The University of St. Thomas officially welcomed its new president, Julie Sullivan, Ph.D. on Thursday in an on campus ceremony. She is the 15th president and the first woman to hold the position in the university’s 128-year history.

Rob Farnsworth, a Republican gubernatorial candidate joined host Tom Hauser in the studio to talk about his vision for the state.

In Face-off, Andy Brehm, Sen. Norm Coleman’s former press secretary, and Javier Morillo, President of the Service Employees International Union discussed the implications of the federal government shutdown.

In Political Analysis, Republican strategist Sarah Janecek, and former Democratic state senator Don Betzold talked about developments in the Southwest light rail line plans.