We are making progress on a number of items as we work toward midnight Sunday, when all legislative bills must be passed in order to reach the governor’s desk.
Work on Real ID is advancing. The House passed a two-tier driver’s license/ID system. It allows Minnesotans to choose between a Real ID-compliant license or opt for a license that simply allows them drive. But, like our current driver’s license, that latter version would not be recognized for boarding aircraft or entering federal facilities.
In other news, the House bonding bill put forward this week includes a $3.6 million appropriation I authored for the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area next door to Crosby and Ironton.
The Cuyuna proposal I authored includes a phased upgrade to the mountain bike trail system and other improvements to the state recreational area. The Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System has rapidly attracted international attention as one of the very best in the world. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has designated the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System as a “Ride Center,” an elite designation shared with only 26 other trail systems in the entire world.
This project adds additional value to the impressive range of outdoor recreational activities available in our area. We are rapidly moving up from a day stop to a full-fledged recreation destination that will attract and hold people for several days to enjoy world class mountain biking, fishing, camping, kayaking, scuba diving, local historical sites and many other activities.
I am cautiously optimistic, but the final amount could change as the proposal works its way through the legislative process. My original bill requested $4.3 million, the project was included in a previous Senate bill at $1.9 million. The current level of $3.6 million still has to compete with other state park and recreational area bonding proposals right up to the point of final passage by the House and Senate.
The hard work by the local community that went into hosting both the House and Senate bonding committee tour last year is paying off. The committee members gained a clear picture of the value of this project and the long term positive economic impact it will have on our area.
Overall, the House's bonding bill totals just under $800 million and is focused on local roads and bridges ($227 million), water infrastructure projects ($130 million) maintenance of our higher education facilities ($137 million).
Gov. Mark Dayton and the Senate both have proposed bonding bills in the range of $1.5 billion. The Senate bill failed to pass that body last week, so we will see what transpires.
Look for more news soon. As they often say at the Capitol, "the situation is fluid."