It could be the bonding year that wasn’t.
House and Senate lawmakers failed late Sunday to pass a roughly $1 billion borrowing package for public works projects across the state — traditionally the centerpiece of even-year legislative years — in the chaotic final minutes of the 2016 session.
The proposal represented a hastily-assembled compromise reached following a protracted weekend of conference committee and leadership negotiations held behind closed doors.
According to spreadsheets distributed as debate on the bonding bill began, it would have authorized $818 million in total bonding as part of a $1.1 billion package for public works spending on projects like rail crossing safety upgrades, water infrastructure improvements, and road and bridge projects.
Rolled out with roughly an hour remaining before the Legislature’s constitutionally-mandated midnight deadline, the proposal was amended onto an existing capital investment bill, HF622, that had failed earlier in the week.
The House passed the bill, as amended, 91-39 with minutes to spare following a stormy debate that saw members shouting on the House Floor. It was then amended further in the Senate to include funding for the proposed Southwest light rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie — a key sticking point in negotiations between the Republican-controlled House and DFL-controlled Senate in recent weeks.
The House, though, adjourned sine die before the amended version of HF622 was returned to the House for a final vote.
Barring a special session, lawmakers’ failure over 11 weeks in session to get a bonding bill to the governor’s desk means public works projects large and small across the state could go unfunded.
The bill would have poured almost $700 million in one-time dollars — consisting of $236 million in general-obligation bonding, $265.5 million in General Fund dollars and $181 million in Trunk Highway spending, according to House Republicans — into transportation projects, far more than originally proposed in the version of HF622 that failed to garner the required three-fifths majority to pass earlier in the week.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton to use mediation to resolve a funding dispute. In an opinion issued Friday, the court also ruled that Dayton’s use of the line-item veto to strip biennial funding for the Legislature was constitutional.
A Ramsey County judge on Wednesday ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of legislative funding violated the state’s constitution.
House and Senate leadership OK a resolution to seek outside legal representation in an effort to restore funding for the Legislature that Gov. Mark Dayton line-item vetoed earlier this week.
Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers on conference committees must sort through competing bills before finalizing a product to send to the governor.
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It was a day of selfies, swearings-in and standing ovations as the House opened the 2017-18 biennial session Tuesday.