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House passes $1.9 billion construction bonding bill

An infrastructure bonding bill two years in the making cleared a major hurdle Wednesday night when it passed the Minnesota House with broad bipartisan support.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota House late Wednesday broke through a political stalemate that had lasted through most of the year, passing a $1.9 billion public works construction bonding bill during a special session.

All 75 DFL members voted for the measure, but they needed at least six Republicans to join them in order to reach the 81-vote supermajority required for bonding bills. In the end, 25 Republicans crossed over to support the jobs package, rendering a final tally of 100 to 34.

The measure will deliver money to scores of infrastructure projects across the state, if it's approved Thursday by the Minnesota Senate. The chief author, Rep. Mary Murphy of Hermantown, said the bill reflects the best in Minnesotans.

"This bill connects Minnesota. This bill is full of Minnesota values," Rep. Murphy, who chairs the Capital Investments Committee, told her colleagues.

The lengthy list of projects found in House File 1 include building repairs and construction in state-owned facilities as well as projects that local communities across Minnesota couldn't afford without help from the state.

"The most important reason to pass this bill is the jobs the bonding portion of this bill creates," House Speaker Melissa Hortman told reporters.

"But every portion of this bill is essential for recovery in COVID-19."

The projects range from raising a flood-prone section of Highway 93 near Henderson to renovations the Institute of Child Development at the U of M.

There's money to replace the 3rd Street Bridge in St. Paul, fix dangerous rail crossings, help small cities upgrade their water treatment systems and assist the Hmong American Farmers Association to buy land the group has been farming in Dakota County.

The major infrastructure spending categories include:

  • U of M: $75 million
  • MnSCU System: $90 million
  • Natural Resources: $104 million
  • Public Safety: $50 million
  • Miscellaneous Transportation: $324 million
  • Trunk Highways: $300 million
  • Econ Development: $159 million
  • Public Facilities: $269 million

The package also includes very timely tax relief for farmers and business owners, by bringing the state's tax code into conformity with the federal tax laws relating to writing off the cost of new farm implements and business equipment.

The legislation passed Wednesday also includes a supplemental spending bill that will, among other things, help keep the state correctional centers open at Togo and Willow River. Both of those boot camp programs have been slated to be shut down permanently due to the state's budget crisis.

It was the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by staff and lawmakers from both parties on the Capital Investments Committee since January, which followed tours of many of the project sites across the state in 2019.

RELATED: Bonding bill debate comes to Henderson

Republicans opposed to the bill said the timing was wrong, with the state facing a projected $2.4 billion deficit in the current two-year fiscal cycle and a $4 billion projected shortfall in the 2021-2023 biennium.

Lawmakers spent the first five hours of the debate hashing through proposed amendments, including one that would've made the bonding bill revenue neutral -- matching the current-year costs of the bill with cuts in other parts of the budget. 

Assistant Minority Leader Anne Neu said bill will add $166 million to the current budget.

"Well, guess what folks? That money is not going to be there!"

None of those amendments ended up in the final bill. The final roll call came 10 hours after the debate began.

Lawmakers voting for HF 1:

Acomb, Patty (DFL) – Aye

Anderson, Paul (R) – Aye

Bahner, Kristin (DFL) – Aye

Becker-Finn, Jamie (DFL) – Aye

Bennett, Peggy (R) – Aye

Bernardy, Connie (DFL) – Aye

Bierman, Robert (DFL) – Aye

Boe, Greg (R) – Aye

Brand, Jeff (DFL) – Aye

Cantrell, Hunter (DFL) – Aye

Carlson, Andrew (DFL) – Aye

Carlson Sr., Lyndon (DFL) – Aye

Christensen, Michelle (Shelly) (DFL) – Aye

Claflin, Anne (DFL) – Aye

Considine Jr., John (Jack) (DFL) – Aye

Baker, Dave (R) – Aye

Davids, Greg (R) – Aye

Davnie, Jim (DFL) – Aye

Dehn, Raymond (DFL) – Aye

Demuth, Lisa (R) – Aye

Dettmer, Bob (R) – Aye

Ecklund, Rob (DFL) – Aye

Edelson, Heather (DFL) – Aye

Elkins, Steve (DFL) – Aye

Fischer, Peter (DFL) – Aye

Freiberg, Mike (DFL) – Aye

Gomez, Aisha (DFL) – Aye

Gruenhagen, Glenn (R) – Aye

Gunther, Bob (R) – Aye

Haley, Barb (R) – Aye

Halverson, Laurie (DFL) – Aye

Hamilton, Rod (R) – Aye

Hansen, Rick (DFL) – Aye

Hassan, Hodan (DFL) – Aye

Hausman, Alice (DFL) – Aye

Her, Kaohly (DFL) – Aye

Hertaus, Jerry (R) – Aye

Hornstein, Frank (DFL) – Aye

Hortman, Melissa (DFL) – Aye

Howard, Michael (DFL) – Aye

Huot, John (DFL) – Aye

Jordan, Sydney (DFL) – Aye

Jurgens, Tony (R) – Aye

Klevorn, Ginny (DFL) – Aye

Koegel, Erin (DFL) – Aye

Kotyza-Witthuhn, Carlie (DFL) – Aye

Kresha, Ron (R) – Aye

Kunesh-Podein, Mary (DFL) – Aye

Layman, Sandy (R) – Aye

Lee, Fue (DFL) – Aye

Lesch, John (DFL) – Aye

Liebling, Tina (DFL) – Aye

Lien, Ben (DFL) – Aye

Lillie, Leon (DFL) – Aye

Lippert, Todd (DFL) – Aye

Lislegard, Dave (DFL) – Aye

Long, Jamie (DFL) – Aye

Mahoney, Tim (DFL) – Aye

Mann, Alice (DFL) – Aye

Mariani, Carlos (DFL) – Aye

Marquart, Paul (DFL) – Aye

Masin, Sandra (DFL) – Aye

Moller, Kelly (DFL) – Aye

Moran, Rena (DFL) – Aye

Morrison, Kelly (DFL) – Aye

Murphy, Mary (DFL) – Aye

Nelson, Michael V. (DFL) – Aye

Nelson, Nathan (R) – Aye

Noor, Mohamud (DFL) – Aye

Nornes, Bud (R) – Aye

Pelowski Jr., Gene (DFL) – Aye

Persell, John (DFL) – Aye

Petersburg, John (R) – Aye

Pierson, Nels (R) – Aye

64B Pinto, Dave (DFL) – Aye

Poppe, Jeanne (DFL) – Aye

Poston, John (R) – Aye

Pryor, Laurie (DFL) – Aye

Richardson, Ruth (DFL) – Aye

Robbins, Kristin (R) – Aye

Olson, Liz (DFL) – Aye

Sandell, Steve (DFL) – Aye

Sandstede, Julie (DFL) – Aye

Sauke, Duane (DFL) – Aye

Schomacker, Joe (R) – Aye

Schultz, Jennifer (DFL) – Aye

Stephenson, Zack (DFL) – Aye

Sundin, Mike (DFL) – Aye

Tabke, Brad (DFL) – Aye

Torkelson, Paul (R) – Aye

Urdahl, Dean (R) – Aye

Vang, Samantha (DFL) – Aye

Wagenius, Jean (DFL) – Aye

Wazlawik, Ami (DFL) – Aye

West, Nolan (R) – Aye

Winkler, Ryan (DFL) – Aye

Wolgamott, Dan (DFL) – Aye

Xiong, Jay (DFL) – Aye

Xiong, Tou (DFL) – Aye

Youakim, Cheryl (DFL) – Aye

Lawmakers voting against HF 1:

Albright, Tony (R) - No

Backer, Jeff (R) - No

Bahr, Cal (R) - No

Daniels, Brian (R) - No

Daudt, Kurt (R) - No

Drazkowski, Steve (R) - No

Erickson, Sondra (R) - No

Fabian, Dan (R) - No

Franson, Mary (R) - No

Garofalo, Pat (R) - No

Green, Steve (R) - No

Grossell, Matt (R) - No

Heinrich, John (R) - No

Heintzeman, Josh (R) - No

Johnson, Brian (R) - No

Kiel, Debra (R) - No

Koznick, Jon (R) - No

Lucero, Eric (R) - No

Lueck, Dale (R) - No

McDonald, Joe (R) - No

Mekeland, Shane (R) - No

Miller, Tim (R) - No

Munson, Jeremy (R) - No

Nash, Jim (R) - No

Neu, Anne (R) - No

Novotny, Paul (R) - No

O’Driscoll, Tim (R) - No

O’Neill, Marion (R) - No

Quam, Duane (R) - No

Runbeck, Linda (R) - No

Scott, Peggy (R) - No

Swedzinski, Chris (R) - No

Theis, Tama (R) - No

Vogel, Bob (R) - No

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