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Coronavirus In MN: House GOP Leader Stymies Bonding Bill To Get Gov. Walz To Give Up Emergency Powers

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A bill that would help create jobs across Minnesota is locked in debate at the State Capitol.

But it's not about how the money should be spent -- but rather who has influence over decisions to reopen the state.

The bonding bill has become a bargaining chip to have a seat at the table. Bonding is another word for borrowing money, and that money is used to fund construction and infrastructure projects.

But there needs to be bi-partisan support, and the Republican leader in the House, Rep. Kurt Daudt, says he won't let a bonding bill through unless Gov. Tim Walz relinquishes his peacetime emergency powers.

Democratic Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler says his party is critical right now of his counterpart.

"This is not the moment to have typical business-as-usual politics at the Capitol," Winkler said.

DFL Party Chair Ken Martin says the livelihood of thousands of Minnesotans is at stake.

"Right now, Kurt Daudt and the Republicans are standing in the way of thousands of hardworking men and women actually getting to work this summer on all types of infrastructure," Martin said.

Daudt says it's not appropriate to pass a bill like this under a state of emergency, when Gov. Walz can make decisions unilaterally. So he says he's using the bill as a means to return to collaboration.

"Because they do need our votes to pass it. This is the one lever that we have just to encourage the governor to take a second look and say, 'Hey, is it appropriate that we, you know, include the legislature now?'" Daudt said.

He emphasized that this stance he's taking is not about criticizing what the governor's done, but University of Minnesota political science Professor Larry Jacobs wonder how voters will view it.

"Rep. Daudt, I think, is taking a little bit of a risk that he won't suffer a backlash of using the emergency powers as a bargaining chip," Jacobs said.

Daudt also argues that this isn't a smart time to be borrowing money anyway, given the economic uncertainty. Martin, however highlights the flip side.

"You have record low interest rates. I would argue that when you have record low interest rates, it probably makes more sense to actually borrow more," Martin said.

Daudt says he's certain a bonding bill will pass, and there's no harm in delaying it a little.

"Bonds don't usually get let for maybe six months at the earliest, and sometimes a year or two years after a bonding bill passes," Daudt said. "We know that it's important to get people back to work, especially in a time like this when we've got so many Minnesotans out of work, but we think we want to do that right."

If no bill is passed before the session ends May 18, the governor can call special sessions throughout the summer which will give lawmakers a chance to come to an agreement.

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