No referendum, no racino, Vandeveer, Dettmer insist

They repeat their positions during FL Chamber gathering last Friday

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

There will be no local legislative support for racino at Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus unless residents of Columbus and Forest Lake vote on the issue.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, and Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, made that point clear on Friday during the annual Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast at Famous Dave’s.

Racino, which would allow slot machines at the two state-controlled horse racing tracks, has been touted as one means of raising new state revenue and as a possible funding source for a new stadium which would be used by the Minnesota Vikings.

But the two area lawmakers, who have opposed racino, said again last week they would not change that position unless a referendum is offered to the voters of the two cities to decide yes or no. They have sponsored amendments requiring referendums to current racino legislation.

If the bill is approved, it would require that the two cities vote on racino within 60 days. Voter approval would be the final say.

“They know where I stand on the gambling issue,” Dettmer said of his opposition to expansion of gambling.

Vandeveer said he believes allowing racino will hurt families and provide a business monopoly for the two racetracks.

“Is it good for the family?” Dettmer asked. “Is that the way we want to do things in life?”

John Derus of Running Aces said racino at the Columbus track would produce 500 new jobs in the area, add property tax base and produce a new income flow to the community.

Regarding the deal announced late last week for a plan to build a new football stadium on the current Metrodome site in Minneapolis, the two Forest Lake lawmakers stopped short of endorsing the plan. The plan calls for electronic pull-tabs as a revenue source to pay the state’s share for the stadium which will cost just under $1 billion.

“We don’t know,” Dettmer said of the details that are tied to this form of gambling expansion. Vandeveer said the pull-tab vehicle may be more acceptable because it would have a wider base.

Bachmann Visits

Last Friday’s Chamber gathering was also an opportunity for Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to make a rare appearance in Forest Lake.

It is believed that the visit last Friday was her first official stop here since launching and subsequently ending her presidential campaign. Since leaving the  national race, Rep. Bachmann has announced she will seek reelection for a fourth term in the Sixth District.

That announcement came after the court-ordered redistricting plan left Rep. Bachmann’s home in West Lakeland Township in the Fourth District which is served by Rep. Betty McCollum, DFL-St. Paul. The state constitution does not require a candidate to live in the district where they choose to run.

During her visit, Bachmann praised the passage of bridge legislation in the U.S. House last week that will signal construction of a new Stillwater bridge. The passage ends what she called the longest unfinished bridge project in U.S. history dating back to the 1950s.

Rep. Bachmann partnered with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minnesota, the Senate author, to move the bill through the House and Senate.

The small Chamber gathering also listened as Bachmann repeated her well documented opposition to what she labeled “Obama Care” and to the Dodd-Frank  financial regulation bill that she said is “killing banking.

“We’ve got to get rid of Obama Care,” she said. “We’ve got to get rid of Dodd-Frank.”

Regarding her failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Bachmann said she felt she was successful in calling attention to problems with the federal health care bill and the new banking regulations.

“I did it [the presidential run] based on what I saw on the ground in Washington,” she said.