In a special coffee talk session on the Minnesota Legislature special session, State House of Representatives District 9A Rep. John Poston said the second special session was “not so special.” Poston said the criminal justice reform bill and a Department of Driver and Vehicle Services licensing bill were accomplished while the bonding bill, tax bill and supplemental budget were not accomplished.
Within the $1.9 billion bonding bill are three Wadena area projects including $1.3 million for infrastructure related to Tri-County Health Care’s new hospital, $4 million for a Todd-County waste facility project and a shovel-ready agreement for Hwy 10’s expansion to four lanes, according to Poston and the Forum News Service.
While the projects are in the bill currently, the Hwy 10 expansion is in as a letter of understanding between the Senate and Department of Transportation for funds to cover pre-planning, planning and environmental work as well as moved up on the Corridors of Commerce project list, Poston said. The change came due to disagreements between Gov. Tim Walz and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka on trunk highway and housing bonds.
“If we have it shovel-ready then it makes it really easy,” Poston said.
Labor leaders and local elected officials speaking to reporters on the Capitol lawn said the bill not passing will impact jobs and delay projects, according to the Forum News Service. Poston hopes to see the bill pass in August though Gazelka and Walz said the bill will not happen before the election, according to the Forum News Service.
“The bonding bill is really important. It creates a lot of jobs in a time when we desperately need jobs,” Poston said.
Overall, Poston said the bonding bill did not pass for various reasons including disagreements between the House and Senate caucuses related to light rail funding from Greater Minnesota, $55 million for repairs after the riots in Minneapolis-St. Paul following the killing of George Floyd and a decrease of $100 million in the reinsurance account.
In other actions, the Minnesota Legislature passed:
A criminal justice reform bill which added citizens to an oversight board along with measures for law enforcement including de-escalation and autism training, a ban on chokeholds and warrior style training and officers intervening when officers are inappropriately treating people.
A DVS license bill to reopen testing facilities across the state, including Brainerd, by providing funding.
The Minnesota Legislature did not pass:
A tax bill including support for farmers and small businesses. The bill did not pass because it was attached to the bonding bill, according to Poston.
The supplemental budget bill because of additional funds for welfare recipients, repairs after the riots in Minneapolis-St. Paul due to the killing of Floyd and poor background check language for foster parents.
The next special session would be on Aug. 13.