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Legislative Update: Stadium Authority grilled, RFA replenish bill passes House

Friday, February 10, 2017


This week the non-partisan Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles presented a report to a joint session of the House and Senate on the use of suites at US Bank Stadium by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA). The entire review can be viewed here but here is a brief overview of their findings:

  • The audit found that the MSFA violated “a core ethical principle” by providing 158 tickets to friends and families while another 35 tickets were deemed questionable. Less than a third of the tickets were used for marketing guests, the supposed purpose of the suites. See Exhibit 1 from the report below.

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  • The audit also found that the MSFA’s claim that they need two suites for marketing purposes instead of one is “not supported by facts or logic.”
  • The audit recommended the legislature enact a law to control the authorities use of complimentary tickets to events at US Bank Stadium; designate one or both of the MSFA’s suites at the stadium to be used for charitable purposes; exercise more oversight over the MSFA; and finally the legislature should consider enactment of laws to control use of all sports facilities built with public money.

In short the audit found that the MSFA, headed by the Governor’s appointees, have failed to be responsible stewards of the public trust and taxpayer funds. I am glad the legislature is moving forward with reforms to enact better oversight and change the makeup of this board. Taxpayers deserve better.

Rural Finance Authority (RFA) loan program

This week the House also passed a bill to replenish the funds in the RFA loan program. The RFA partners with agricultural lenders to provide low-cost financing to farmers. The RFA portion of the loan is carried at a reduced interest rate to improve the cash flow of eligible farmers. RFA offer loans within the beginning farmer loan and seller assisted program, agricultural improvement program, debt restructuring program, and livestock expansion programs.

It was important to pass this action quickly in the House to refill the RFA now as farmers are getting ready for the growing season and due to inaction last session, the RFA was almost completely out of money. The bill now will move to the Senate for further debate.

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Have a great weekend,