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House defeats bonding bill ... for now

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ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House defeated a public works funding bill this afternoon, but even with a Monday adjournment deadline looming it still could come back up.

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Bill author Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said today’s vote would be the only chance representatives would have to pass her $800 million bill, to be funded by the state selling bonds. In past legislative sessions, major bills such as the bonding bill have been defeated in the final days, but have come back before the midnight Monday constitutional deadline.

“This is nothing short of tragic,” Hausman said after the bill failed.

The House vote was 76-56, with 81 votes needed for the state to sell bonds.

Southwestern Minnesota Republicans said they were upset because aid to their area affected by storms last month was in the bonding bill, which was less likely to pass than if the bill were a stand-alone measure.

"I truly hope the Democrats aren’t going to play politics with an act of God...” Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, said. “With four days left in session, there is absolutely no excuse to not hear this (disaster relief) bill, approve it and send it to the Senate."

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, also worried that the disaster relief could be in danger.

“Democrats are holding this funding hostage because we did not support $800 million in additional state borrowing,” Hamilton said. “We have always helped our disaster victims during their time of crisis, and I can only hope the Democrats will do the right thing and bring this bill forward in the next few days.”

The overall bonding bill would fund projects such as state Capitol renovation work, repairs at state facilities ranging from colleges to state parks and providing funds for communities to improve sewer treatment plants. The $109 million Capitol provision is the largest in the bill.

Many Republicans said they could not support the bonding bill until the state budget is finished. Various budget bills have begun to be heard by the House and Senate, but no major spending bills have been debated.

Hausman told reporters after the vote that the bonding bill is finished, but Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the Democratic-controlled House and Senate could order the bill to be debated again.

There has been talk this year that Republicans could accept a bonding bill that includes Capitol work and any disaster funding needed, but not other projects.

Hausman said she thinks a Capitol-only funding bill will not come up this year.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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