Sen. Scott Dibble has served in the state Senate since 2002, before that he served one term in the state House. He represents District 60. The Minneapolis resident has championed sustainable transportation, as well as introduced high-profile legislation against Southwest Minneapolis Patch talked to Dibble last week about a possible Vikings stadium, his anti-bullying bills and his priorities for the session.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch: You’ve played a very vocal role in the Senate so far this year, how has your approach changed as you moved into the minority?
Sen. Scott Dibble: I’ve spoken up on a couple things here and there, I’m don’t know that it was intentional. I’m becoming one of the senior members of the DFL caucus and, as such, leadership accumulates over time to those who have more breadth and depth of experience in this arena. I aknowledge that I’ve been noticed a lot in the press. I feel very strongly it’s important to give full voice to the values you’re elected to represent.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch: Do you have any position on a possible stadium for the Vikings, because there’s been talk of new TIF (Tax Increment Financing) districts or funding that comes out of Minneapolis or Hennepin County people’s pocketbooks. Any thoughts on that?
Dibble: The idea of using tax money to build a stadium is about the worst idea; even in good times I think it’s a super bad idea. Absolutely, when we’re struggling, when people don’t have jobs and we’re talking about a $6.2 billion deficit [it’s a really bad idea]. The argument that it’s a form of economic development, there’s no evidence to show that whatsoever.
If this thing is going to be juggernauted through, because it may well be because the good old boys always get what they want around here, we better be darn sure we’re doing something that’s bigger and better than just the stadium. Some communities have been smart enough to build the stadium, but then create some sort of sustained source of funding that continues on that gives a more stable base for education or transit or something that really does have an economic payoff.
What I hate the most about stadiums and any discussion about stadiums is all the sudden legislators are spending all their time, falling all over themselves, to figure out how to make something like this work. All the political capital they spend, all the creative time and energy they put into it, why aren’t they doing the same thing to make sure we fund a decent transit system that really does make this a world class metropolitan area or a world class region in terms of research and workforce development. Stadiums just kind of absorb everyone and all the oxygen in the room.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch: There are a lot of people who are paid to make stadiums an issue...
Dibble: That’s exactly why the good old boys always get what they want around here. It’s because they have very deep pockets and fund really well to do lobbyists to walk the halls constantly and trade in that sort of influence and they’ve just go the power and influence to do it it year in and year out.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch: Is there any potential for your anti-bullying bills this session?
Dibble: We’re going to introduce it and ask for hearings—we’ll see. I’m dubious. I think the general posture of the right-wing fundamentalists and religious conservative Republicans is hostile towards treating gay kids fairly in schools. I’m going to try because kids are being bullied to death and that’s unacceptable in Minnesota.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch: Are there any other major bills or issues you’ll be concentrating on this session?
Dibble: I’m going to try hard to protect basic levels of funding for transit. [I’m going to] try to move some policy ideas around [to address] accountabilty in funding for transportation.
Weekly Update, Feb.7-14
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Minneapolis) and state Rep. Jeff Hayden (DFL-Minneapolis):
- Co-authored a bill that would extend moratorium on radiation therapy facilities construction. House File 383 was introduced on Feb. 7.
State Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis):
- Signed on last Monday as a co-author to a bill that would adjust school funding. Hayden and Thissen are already co-authors. House File 345 was introduced on Feb. 3.
- Co-authored bills allowing special retired firefighter license plates and establishing standards for special plates, House File 421 and House File 422.
- Co-authored a bill that would give counties the right to participate in a pilot program to better reinstate licenses—cities already participate in the program. House File 387 was introduced on Feb. 7.