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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 17 2013

Minn. House defeats construction projects bill

ST. PAUL - The Minnesota House defeated a public works funding bill this afternoon, but even with a Monday adjournment deadline looming it still could come back up.

Bill author Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said today’s vote would be the only chance representatives would have to pass her $800 million bill, to be funded by the state selling bonds. In past legislative sessions, major bills such as the bonding bill have been defeated in the final days, but have come back before the midnight Monday constitutional deadline.

“This is nothing short of tragic,” Hausman said after the bill failed.

The House vote was 76-56, with 81 votes needed for the state to sell bonds.

Southwestern Minnesota Republicans said they were upset because aid to their area affected by storms last month was in the bonding bill, which was less likely to pass than if the bill were a stand-alone measure.

"I truly hope the Democrats aren’t going to play politics with an act of God...” Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, said. “With four days left in session, there is absolutely no excuse to not hear this (disaster relief) bill, approve it and send it to the Senate."

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, also worried that the disaster relief could be in danger.

“Democrats are holding this funding hostage because we did not support $800 million in additional state borrowing,” Hamilton said. “We have always helped our disaster victims during their time of crisis, and I can only hope the Democrats will do the right thing and bring this bill forward in the next few days.”

The overall bonding bill would fund projects such as state Capitol renovation work, repairs at state facilities ranging from colleges to state parks and providing funds for communities to improve sewer treatment plants. The $109 million Capitol provision is the largest in the bill.

Many Republicans said they could not support the bonding bill until the state budget is finished. Various budget bills have begun to be heard by the House and Senate, but no major spending bills have been debated.

Hausman told reporters after the vote that the bonding bill is finished, but Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the Democratic-controlled House and Senate could order the bill to be debated again.

There has been talk this year that Republicans could accept a bonding bill that includes Capitol work and any disaster funding needed, but not other projects.

Hausman said she thinks a Capitol-only funding bill will not come up this year.

House bonding bill highlights

ST. PAUL – A public works borrowing bill was defeated by the Minnesota House on Friday, but it could be revived. Here are some of the major projects proposed in the House’s plan to borrow money for public works projects:

• Capitol building restoration, $109 million

• University of Minnesota projects, $109.3 million

• Minnesota State Colleges and Universities projects, $88.6 million

• Greater Minnesota transit facilities, $4.9 million

• Rochester, St. Cloud and Mankato civic and event centers, $55.3 million

• Local road and bridge improvements, $45 million

• Southwest Minnesota FEMA state match, $1.5 million

Here are some area projects in the House plan:

• Facilities work at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, $5.2 million

• Duluth NorShor Theatre renovations, $4.95 million

• Duluth Wade Stadium improvement planning, $250,000

• Red Wing “river renaissance,” $1.58 million

• Flood mitigation projects, including Moorhead area, $25 million

• City of Virginia utilities, water and sewer relocation, $1.4 million

• Mesabi trails relocation, $150,000

• Washington and Dakota counties regional trails, $2 million

• Red Lake school district renovations and construction, $5.5 million

• Chisholm-Hibbing Airport terminal renovations, $5 million

• Hastings veterans home, $1.6 million

• Park Rapids Upper Mississippi Center, $2.5 million

• Sanitary sewer systems in St. Louis and Koochiching counties around Voyageurs National Park, $8.6 million

• Alexandria Technical and Community College manufacturing program equipment, $650,000 (cash)

• Red Wing shredder, $1 million (cash)

• Red River recreation area improvements, $250,000

• Worthington Bioscience Lab and Technology Training Center, $314,000

• Luverne veterans home, $770,000

• Science laboratories and classrooms in colleges including Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, $2.7 million

• Heartland Trail extension from Detroit Lakes to Frazee, Moorhead to Buffalo State Park segment, up to $3.1 million

• Goodhue Pioneer Trail segment between White Willow and Goodhue, up to $300,000

• Fosston street improvements, $400,000

- Danielle Killey, Forum News Service