House passes public works infrastructure bill, on to Senate

Published 9:57 am Thursday, October 15, 2020

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota House has finally passed a $1.37 billion public works construction borrowing package after months of gridlock.

Twenty-five Republicans crossed over Wednesday night to give the Democrats the 60% supermajority the legislation needed to pass. The vote was 100-34. The bill now goes to the Republican-led Senate, which was scheduled to reconvene Thursday.

The bonding bill is the biggest piece of unfinished business left over from the 2020 regular session, which ended in May. With less than three weeks to go until the election, this was seen as the Legislature’s last chance to get it done this year.

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The bill would finance $1.87 billion in public infrastructure projects statewide once other funding sources are counted. The House version also includes some supplemental spending to avoid layoffs of state employees and prevent the closure of two small correctional facilities, and a business tax break aimed at farms and small businesses.

House Republicans blocked attempts to approve bonding bills during earlier special sessions. Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, of Crown, wanted Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to give up the emergency powers that he’s used to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Daudt recently dropped that demand and turned to seeking budget cuts to offset the debt service costs.