As deadline approaches, lawmakers making their final push in Minnesota
The constitutional deadline for Minnesota lawmakers to adjourn the legislative session is fast approaching.
It's a mad dash in the final days to get work accomplished. With Governor Dayton's veto of the tax bill Thursday morning, it's back to the drawing board there. The bonding bill, which must be passed this year was also voted down by the Senate. Duluth Senator Erik Simonson said that's because Democratic senators want the $825 million House bill to be increased to closer to $1-billion.
Those are just a couple things lawmakers are working to address at the Minnesota Capitol Thursday.
State Representatives from districts all over the Northland are working to finish their work before the session adjourns at 11:59 Sunday night.
"I'm working on bonding dollars for the University of Minnesota Duluth, and all of the University of Minnesota, and all Minnesota State colleges and universities, and for Glensheen. Then we are also trying to get money for the Duluth Steam Plant, and the seawalls, the zoo, and even the Depot has requested money," said Rep. Jennifer Schultz - DFL, Duluth.
Not far from Duluth, and just up Highway Two in Grand Rapids, is Representative Sandy Layman's district. Layman said she was disappointed by the Governor's veto of the tax bill.
"I was very disappointed that the governor vetoed the tax bill that was worked on in a bi-partisan fashion. I think we had a great tax bill, that not only addressed tax-conformity, but offered actual tax-rate reductions for the first time in decades for all Minnesotan's," she said.
Rep. Layman said her priorities in the final days of the session are surrounding school safety.
"We have several, several measures that address school safety issues that are going to help all of our schools. In Grand Rapids, in Greenway, in Deer River, in Cass County, all of my district is going to be helped by those measures," said Layman - R, Grand Rapids.
Not far from Rep. Layman, is Rep. Jason Metsa's district. He said there are a number of bonding bill needs around Mountain Iron and Virginia.
"In Virginia, we have a fire hall that has a request in. Gilbert has a trail-head, Aurora has some waste-water treatment funding that they're looking for," said Metsa, DFL - Mountain Iron.
Just south of the Canadian Border in Representative Rob Ecklund's District, he said he's working to keep his district Minnesota's playground.
"We [have] the Black Beach Project in the bonding bill. I'm also looking to get the Grand Marais Harbor project in there. And I'm also working on a beach project over in the city of Babbit," said Ecklund, DFL - International Falls.
In the Senate, Senator Erik Simonson is working to get Mayor Emily Larson's street improvement plan through, as well as Essentia's ask for $180-million to establish portions of Duluth's East Hillside as a medical district.
"Those two are obviously priorities, followed up by the number of bonding projects we have out there for the city of Duluth too," said Simonson, DFL - Duluth.
For weeks now, Sen. Simonson has been working to find the appropriate place for get those projects into a bill.
"The street tax is going to get tied directly to this medical exchange district. That is the way we are managing it here in the Senate. We did not put it in the omnibus tax bill on purpose because we knew the Governor was going to veto that bill. But again, if there is another bill that comes forward that is a little less ominous then that might be a vehicle too."
If the street improvement plan doesn't make it's way into a bill this year, it would have to wait until 2019 before it could become law. In the fall of 2017, Sen. Simonson said he gave it a 50-50 chance of going through this year. Now, he says that plan, as well as Essentia's, have about an 80-20 chance of going through,
The last couple legislative sessions have ended in total chaos for lawmakers. In 2016, lawmakers did not pass a bonding bill, in a year that it was required. In 2017 they went into a special session. Looking towards the end of 2018's session, lawmakers say they expect it to be a smooth ending this year.
"Even if it means staying here a little later, staying here a little later, compromising a little harder, that's are responsibility to get it done as lawmakers," said Metsa.
Lawmakers are constitutionally obligated to adjourn no later than 11:59 p.m Sunday night.