In a flurry of deal-making, shouting and general mayhem, the 2016 legislative session came to a close amid a level of chaos unusual even for the final days of a legislative session. Here’s how the four mains bills (taxes, bonding, supplement budget and transportation) fared:
As expected, the Omnibus Tax Bill passed both House and Senate on Sunday with large majorities in voting in favor of the bill. The bill includes a $20 million increase in LGA. The LGA run reflecting this increase can be found here. The Governor has not committed to signing the bill yet, as he has concerns over a significant tobacco tax reduction contained in it. The Governor has 14 days to decide whether he will sign the bill.
In response to the tax bill, we issued this statement to the press from CGMC President Bob Broeder, in which we express that even though the increase was not as high as we were hoping, we are pleased that the Legislature was able to reach an agreement and provide a boost in LGA funding.
In addition, Mayor Broeder asked us to pass along the following message from him to all of our members:
Thank You to all CGMC members and F & H staff for all your efforts in prompting action so this was a “Do Something ” Session. – Mayor Bob Broeder, President CGMC
By now you have probably heard that the bonding bill did not pass. All day yesterday it was clear that negotiations were continuing on the bill. With less than an hour until the midnight deadline, a bonding bill materialized on the House floor that appeared to be an agreement between the House and the Senate. The bill included numerous local projects from around the state and the usual dollars for higher education and state agencies to maintain their assets. The bill also included two of CGMC’s highest priorities: $133.5 million for clean water infrastructure and $12 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program. In addition, there was almost $200 million in funding for various Corridors of Commerce projects as well as other items related to transportation.
The bill was hastily passed off the House floor with only minutes to go and then sent to the Senate. Upon arrival in the Senate, Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) tried to add an amendment that would have allowed additional local bonding authority for transit. Amid procedural confusion and a ticking clock the Senate passed the bill with Sen. Latz’s amendment. Because the bill was amended by the Senate, it needed to go back the House for final approval. However, by that time the clock had turned past midnight, the House had adjourned and the session turned into a pumpkin.
There is great speculation about whether Gov. Dayton will call a special session for the specific purpose of completing a bonding bill. CGMC sent a press release and Action Alert encouraging the Governor to call the Legislature back so that important projects would not be stalled. The Governor held a press conference today, but he gave no indication whether he plans to call a special session.
The Supplemental budget bill also passed both bodies late Sunday night. Legislators were given little time to digest the 599-page bill and all the spending and policy contained in it. The bill includes $35 million for broadband, but the policy language is written in a way that is unlikely to work for most cities. The bill limits the amount of funds available to cities with some — yet poor — service, and it also allows telecom companies that are already operating in the area to block new projects if they meet or promise to meet minimal standards.
COMPREHENSIVE TRANSPORTATION BILL