Gov. Walz issued a proclamation Wednesday calling the Legislature in for another special session on Oct. 12. This will be the fifth special session of 2020 as the Governor seeks to extend his peacetime emergency powers, which have been in effect since March.
There has been heightened discussion among legislators this week about the possibility of passing a bonding bill during the special session. It appears that House and Senate leaders have generally agreed to the contents of a bill, which is expected to look very similar to the version of the bonding bill that emerged in early summer.
It is promising news that talks have resumed, but passage of a bonding bill remains far from a done deal. While it appears House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) has backed away from his previous assertion that his caucus would not support a bonding bill until the Governor relinquishes his emergency powers, some House Republicans, including Rep. Daudt, have expressed a reluctance to vote for a bonding bill if it adds to the state’s budget deficit. At the same time, many GOP legislators want to tie the bonding bill to passage of a tax bill that includes full conformity with federal tax code Section 179 related to large-equipment expensing. This tax proposal is a top priority for some business and agriculture groups, but it comes with a significant cost that would add to the deficit.
The CGMC continues to advocate for passage of a bonding bill. This week CGMC President and Little Falls Mayor Greg Zylka penned an open letter to legislators, which has been published in the Duluth News Tribune, MinnPost and other media outlets, urging them to pass a bonding bill when they reconvene next week. With the election fast approaching, this may be the last good chance to pass a bonding bill before the new legislature takes office in January. We are concerned that once the 2021 session begins, focus will quickly shift to the state budget and other important issues—forcing the bonding bill to the sidelines even longer.
We will keep you updated on the special session and the bonding bill as developments occur. In the meantime, please continue to contact your legislators to urge them to pass a bonding bill during the October special session.