21 Aug 2014
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Mendota Heights Legislators Watchful of Capital Projects Bill

Legislators will be considering how much to borrow and which projects to spend it on in upcoming weeks.

Mendota Heights Legislators Watchful of Capital Projects Bill

A variety of projects for northern Dakota County could be funded through a bonding bill this session, but packages have yet to pass off of either the House or Senate floor.

A bonding bill is traditionally passed in the even year, and is likely to be an area of focus when legislators return this week from the Easter/Passover break.

Bonding is when the state borrows money to finance capital investment projects like road and bridge repair, maintenance of public buildings and flood mitigation.

The House proposal would spend about $220 million, significantly less than the approx. $775 million in projects proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The Senate bill offers up $496 million.

Sen. Jim Metzen (D-South St. Paul) has sponsored a measure in the Senate bill to provide $500,000 to design a floodwall in South St. Paul to help redevelop the riverfront.

Other potential projects in the area could include improvements to the Robert Street transit corridor, and money for building upgrades and repairs at Inver Hills Technical College, Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount and St. Paul College.

“For our area it was a pretty good bonding bill,” said Metzen, referring to the Senate version.

Rep. Rick Hansen (D-South St. Paul) said last month that he was skeptical that the House bill could garner enough support for passage, saying it was too small and had too many specific local projects.

Read the most recent House bill here.

Read the most recent Senate bill here.

Hansen visited a townhall with Rep. Patti Fritz (D-Fairbault) over the Easter/Passover Break to talk about the bonding bill. “We’re one state and there are projects around the state that need (funding).”

“I’m hopeful we have a bonding bill because interest rates are low,” said Hansen. “We need construction jobs.”

A bonding bill was not passed at all in 2004.

Also in play is a $221 million project traveling separately in the House for renovation of the capitol complex itself. Rep. Rick Hansen sat on a capitol security taskforce last year.

Hansen supported the capitol-bonding bill in committee, but would rather go about it differently.* “I don’t think we should bond all $220 million this year,” he said last month. “I think you phase it and you can bid things and get a better deal.”

The Senate has $25 million for capitol repairs earmarked within its bonding bill.

Constitutionally, the legislature has until May 21 to wrap up business, but House Speaker Kurt Zellers has set April 30 as the session deadline.

Sen. Jim Metzen

A list of all legislation authored by Sen. Jim Metzen this biennium is available on the  Minnesota Legislature's website.

Rep. Rick Hansen

A list of all legislation authored by Rep. Rick Hansen this biennium is available on the  Minnesota Legislature's website.

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Hansen was not present for the vote on the capitol repair bill, but is in favor of it. Patch regrets the error.

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