With just over two weeks of session remaining, the window for Minnesota legislators to pass a final transportation bill, tax bill, bonding bill and supplemental budget bill is closing quickly. Conference committee members were announced for several bills this week, including the supplemental budget bill, HR2749.
Senate Bonding Bill
Traditionally, the Legislature passes a larger bonding bill in even-numbered years, with the focus on building and maintaining infrastructure. For the 2016 bonding bill, the Office of Management and Budget gave the Legislature notice that the bonding capacity under statutory guidelines was $3.5 billion. The Senate Capitol Investment Committee approved a bill that totaled $1.5 billion, with $1.32 billion in General Obligation bonds, and most of the remaining dollars coming out of the General Fund as cash.
This week, the bill was heard before the Capital Investment Committee, the Finance Committee, and finally, before the full Senate. The bill included higher education, transportation, parks and trails, water, and asset preservation projects in districts all over the state, with many members standing to express support for projects in their own communities. The bill fell one vote short of the required 3/5ths majority needed to pass. Republicans said the bill was too large and proposed their own bill just under $1 billion. Look for attempts next week to revive the bonding bill.
This week, the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Redwing), heard the Real ID bill. DFL members tried to attach an amendment that would include a two-tier system, which would allow Minnesotans to choose between a Real ID compliant card or a non-compliant card. They described a two-tier system as more consumer friendly, but the amendment was not adopted. Republicans did have some concerns with the bill and expressed their intent to offer amendment later in the process. The Real ID bill will be heard in Ways and Means next week. In the Senate, the Real ID bill (SF3589) carried by Senator Dibble (DFL- Minneapolis) differs from the House version by including the two-tier system. It was heard in the Committee on State and Local Government and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, and will be heard again next week.
On Wednesday, the Transportation Conference Committee met to continue working on its omnibus bill, HF4. Members discussed a possible amendment dealing with emergency response and preparedness provisions. After each member reviewed their likes and dislikes with the bill, both Republican and DFL members stated they are willing to compromise if it leads to a comprehensive bill that is good for all Minnesotans. The committee has not said when they plan to meet next week.
Upcoming Legislative Notes
Next week, the Senate will take up its Omnibus Tax bill in committee and on the Senate floor. Legislators will begin to meet in conference committees to resolve the differences between bills, including the supplemental budget bill and transportation bill.
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