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The Capitol Note: State releases details on foreign steel for Vikings stadium

Mike Mullen//November 26, 2013//

The Capitol Note: State releases details on foreign steel for Vikings stadium

Mike Mullen//November 26, 2013//

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Former legislator Tom Rukavina has been critical of the stadium's use of foreign iron ore. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
Former legislator Tom Rukavina has been critical of the stadium’s use of foreign iron ore. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

1.) The use of European building materials has officially became the latest controversy to bubble up regarding the Minnesota Vikings’ new stadium. On Monday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) issued a press release to explain the purported necessity to buy at least some of its extra-strength steel from Luxembourg. The decision to import steel has been the subject of criticism, not least from former legislator and Iron Range DFL stalwart Tom Rukavina, who hinted that the support of some members from that region had been contingent upon their belief that the project would benefit the area’s iron ore mining industry. The MSFA release states that only $5 million (roughly 6 percent) worth of the stadium’s steel will be shipped in from outside the country, and the remaining $77 million would be bought domestically.

Perhaps notably, the release does not clarify whether the “domestic companies” that will benefit from those procurements are based in Minnesota. (The statement does indicate that the fabrication process will be carried out by Lejune Steel Company and Danny’s Steel Company, both of which operate out of this state.) One corporation that does operate out of Minnesota, however, is ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg firm that has been contracted to provide the high-strength steel. “ArcelorMittal owns and operates facilities on the Iron Range in Minnesota — the ArcelorMittal Mines and the Hibbing Taconite Mines,” the release states.

2.) Apparently not content with a round of public shaming, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton accusing the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) of producing a legislative presentation that was unfairly slanted in favor of Democrats. Daudt’s letter refers back to last week’s hearing of the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy (LCPFP), where he and other GOP lawmakers interrupted a DEED presentation on the state economy to object to what they called politically loaded language. Specifically, they objected to the agency’s reference to “games and gimmicks” used to close budget shortfalls in previous cycles; that phrase and others like it appeared often in DFL and union-produced communications during the debate over raising taxes earlier this year.

In his letter to the governor, Daudt writes that DEED’s slide show risks running afoul of state law against using public employees to produce campaign material. “Should your agency continue using this presentation in an official capacity, my caucus will take any action necessary to protect the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota from this impermissible use of their tax dollars,” he wrote. Daudt went on to call for Dayton to stop DEED from reproducing its PowerPoint demonstration for public use.

3.) Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, became the fourth gubernatorial candidate to voluntarily release his tax returns, submitting documents that reveal his and his wife’s income to the Star Tribune on Monday. Combined, Zellers and his wife earned more than $116,000 last year, and paid about $13,000 in taxes. Zellers opted not to disclose how much money he donated to charity during the year; earlier, Gov. Mark Dayton had faced some criticism for giving only $1,000 during 2012, an amount that Dayton said “disappointed” him. Zellers’ fellow GOP candidates Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson have also made their 2012 earnings public. Republican businessman Scott Honour has yet to release his information, but his campaign has pledged to do so, while new entrant Marty Seifert said last week he would not be volunteering details of his personal earnings.


House staffer Matt Bergeron confirmed to Politics in Minnesota that he is thinking about joining the House District 64B field, an attractive race for St. Paul Democrats looking to replace outgoing DFL Rep. Michael Paymar. Bergeron is currently the committee administrator for the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. Prior to that job, he was in government relations, both at Lockridge Grindal Nauen and, later, at his own shop called Bergeron Strategies Group.

The Weber Johnson public relations firm announced its hiring of Holli VanOverbeke as an account executive. VanOverbeke (nee Drinkwine) was previously with Lockridge Grindal Nauen and, before that, worked for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office.

The Senate District 45 GOP announced on Monday that Richard Lieberman will look to challenge Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-New Hope, next year. According to a campaign website, Lieberman is a long time New Hope resident with a background in baseball coaching and administration. Ousting Carlson is likely to prove an uphill battle: The 21-term House veteran is tied with Minneapolis Rep. Phyllis Kahn as the longest tenured legislator in the state, and won reelection last year with nearly 60 percent of the district vote.

Jacob Millner is leaving his position with the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association to become the director of public affairs at the Minnesota Dental Association. Millner had been with the auto dealers’ group since January of 2012, and had previously plied his trade for the Jewish Community Relations Council. He starts in his new position next week.

Though it’s not clear what this mean to 6th Congressional District voters, former legislator Phil Krinkie has won the endorsement of Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., according to Michael Brodkorb, who reports on a fundraiser the first-term GOP congressman held for Krinkie.

Lobbyist Richard Forschler of Faegre Baker Daniels has registered to represent AEG Facilities, the worldwide stadium management company which counts the Target Center among its many operation sites.

Rep. Pam Myhra, R-Burnsville, was the recipient of the National Foundation for Women Legislators’ “Elected Women of Excellence” at that organization’s national awards banquet last week.

Gov. Mark Dayton plans to appoint Marie McCarthy to the Metropolitan Council. McCarthy would take the District 10 seat currently held by John Doan; her term would run from the end of November through January 5, 2015.

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