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MINNEAPOLIS-The Minnesota Twins won the first round in its bid to win legislative approval to fund a new $478 million ballpark by raising the sales tax in Hennepin County.

The bill, introduced by 28-year-old Republican House member Brad Finstad, passed 17-5 in the House Government Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee this week. More importantly for the bill, an amendment was defeated that would have allowed county voters to decide the deal–a deal breaker for Twins officials, who said a referendum would be too costly and time-consuming. Opponents say the Twins fear the taxpayers will vote down the deal.

The financing plan for the 42,000-seat stadium, which was recently approved by the Hennepin County Board, would include a $125 million investment from Twins owner Carl Pohlad, with the rest coming from an additional 0.15% county sales tax. The stadium plan will next go to the House Local Government Committee.

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