Mark your calendars. Two long-awaited public hearings on the Minnesota Vikings' stadium issue have been scheduled by state senator Julianne Ortman. They will take place Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 in front of two legislative committees that would figure heavily in the advancement of a presumed bill in the state legislature.
The rhetoric level of these hearings figures to be high, both pro and con, but stadium supporters should be relatively happy with the timing. They will conclude some six weeks before the start of the 2012 legislative session, providing a window either for a late-December or early-January special session on the topic. If nothing else, some important work will have been conducted before the regular session begins Jan. 24.
Gov. Mark Dayton wrote in an op-ed piece over the weekend that he hopes the legislature will vote on a stadium bill within a month of opening their session, or Feb. 24.
The hearings are no guarantee of future progress, of course. In a release, Ortman said: "Based on information provided to these committees, we will determine if there is consensus for further action."
In rejecting requests for a November special session on the issue, House Speaker Kurt Zellers said public hearings should precede the proposal of any bill. Wednesday's announcement allows for the orderly achievement of that criteria.