ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota House Monday passed a bill revamping the board that oversees US Bank Stadium, with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, while legislative leaders called for more answers about reported inside favors for the former chair of that agency.
"You saw the board chair using her position to jump and budge in front of season ticket holders in the State of Minnesota," Rep. Sarah Anderson, the Plymouth Republican who is the main author of the bill, told her colleague.
Rep. Anderson referred to a new revelation in a Minneapolis Star Tribune story that appeared Sunday, saying that former board chair Michele Kelm-Helgen was able to move to the head of the line when Vikings season tickets went on sale.
And, according to the newspaper's account, Kelm-Helgen was able to use that advantage to secure prime seating for members of her husband's law firm.
"So that they could get a better seat than anyone else to a Vikings game. In fact, not just a better seat, but the best seat in the House."
The measure, which will eliminate the salary of the stadium board chair and restructure the board's makeup, passed by a vote of 122 to 7. A companion measure it making its way through the Minnesota Senate.
The board currently has five members. As provided by the 2012 stadium bill, three of those -- including the chair -- are appointed by the governor. And two are to be picked by the Mayor of Minneapolis, because of that city's $150 million contribution to the stadium cost.
Anderson's bill would expand the board to seven, but limit the governor and mayor of Minneapolis to just one appointment each. The four top legislative leaders would each pick a member, and the seventh appointment would be a certified public accountant.
That CPA would be appointed by the head of the Legislative Coordination Commission. Currently that post is held by House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and based on the rotation schedule the next chair will be Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.
The main issue that was debated on the House floor Monday concerned a provision that prohibited employees of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority from participating in political activities. Some Democrats asserted that would violate the free speech rights of those employees embodied in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
But Anderson defended the language, arguing that many of the stadium authority board members had abused their power, and that the MFSA had become a hotbed of DFL inside dealing and favoritism.
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