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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, May 3, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans passed their omnibus transportation finance bill. Included in the bill is $38 million in trunk highway funds to complete the four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 212 between Chaska and Norwood Young America. For the last six years, I have been an author or coauthor on legislation that would expand HWY 212 to 4 lanes and it’s great to see this provision included in the Senate’s transportation bill.

This is something that has been worked on since the 1960s.

The Senate bill now goes to conference committee with the DFL House and I am holding out hope that the funding will be included in the final bill. Completion of HWY 212 has been my number one priority since being elected and it appears that we are closer than ever to seeing that happen.

The Senate plan stands in stark contrast to the House Democrat plan. The Senate plan invests billions into our roads and bridges without raising taxes or fees.

The House plan, which was passed by House Democrats on Monday, raises $4 billion in new taxes over the next four years. Chief among the tax increases is the proposed 70% gas tax hike.

In addition to the 70% gas tax increase, which would give Minnesota the fourth highest gas tax in the country, the House Democrat transportation bill increases the vehicle registration tax, the metro sales tax, and the new vehicle sales tax. Further, the bill transfers statutorily dedicated auto parts sales tax funds — $417 million in 2020-21 – into the general fund. This reverses the major investments that House and Senate Republicans made during the last biennium to fund road and bridge infrastructure without a gas tax increase.

The House bill was an easy “no” vote for me as we proved last session that we can make historic investments in our roads and bridges without raising taxes.

Fortunately, the Senate plan continues that tradition and I am hopeful that whatever bill comes back from conference committee will be more in line with their approach as compared to the House Democrat plan.

Now that we are into May, I will make sure to keep you updated on end-of-session happenings as they happen. Until then, please do not hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Glenn

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