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Minnesota Legislature

Transportation division approves catchall policy bill

The House transportation panel OK’d a package of policy measures on Thursday that revives a number of provisions vetoed as part of a larger supplemental finance bill last spring.

HF1623, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), rounds up a number of policy changes into one bill, and includes provisions impacting school bus safety, restricted licenses for farm work, Department of Transportation construction contracts and more.

Approved by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division, as amended, the bill now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee.

A companion sponsored by Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), SF1749, has cleared the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee and has been re-referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

“The goal of this was to move some things that were vetoed last year,” Hornstein said, “to create a bill that was non-controversial and could move along.”

Selected measures in the bill include those that would:

  • authorize school buses to be equipped with supplemental flashing lights or electronic signs approved by the Department of Public Safety;
  • authorize the use of a changeable electronic message sign on the rear of a school bus if it’s used in conjunction with the school bus warning and stop lighting, and is an approved supplemental warning system;
  • permit a vehicle operating under an overweight permit transporting raw or unfinished forest products to operate on a portion of Interstate 35 between Carlton and St. Louis counties;
  • match per-axle and gross vehicle weight limits for emergency vehicles operated on interstates to limits established in federal law;
  • allow an individual to use a restricted license for farm work on any type of farm and expands the allowed operation radius from the farmhouse to 40 miles, from 20;
  • raise the limit from $150,000 to $250,000 for maintenance or construction contracts in which MnDOT can use direct negotiation instead of competitive bidding;
  • rename a stretch of Highway 210 in Cass County and “Trooper Ray Krueger Memorial Highway;”
  • rename a bridge on U.S. Highway 52 in Dakota County as the “Warrant Officer Dennis A. Groth Memorial Bridge;” and,
  • rename a bridge on U.S. Highway 53 in Eveleth as “Specialist Noah Pierce Bridge.”

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