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Public Works, Transportation Bills Remain In Session's Final Hours

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — State lawmakers are headed towards a midnight deadline to get bills passed before the legislative session ends.

They worked through the weekend, but as of 10 p.m. Sunday, there's still no agreement on some major issues, including funding for roads and bridges. However, lawmakers did agree on a few things.

Minnesota lawmakers have been meeting for 10 weeks and there's only two hours left in the session. And they are only now debating how to spend the surplus.

Lawmakers still haven't reached agreement on the two biggest issues of the year: Transportation and public works jobs. Negotiations over roads and bridges continued to vex lawmakers who could not agree how to pay for it, or for how long.

The distrust is so real, the Senate Democratic leader refused to agree to a one-year only GOP deal because he doesn't trust Republicans to tell the truth.

"I'm just not interested. Have never been interested in something that allows people to hit the campaign trail and say 'Hey! we resolved the state's transportation infrastructure problem' when everybody, when they push that green button and vote is going to know that is not true," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said.

Lawmakers did agree to give the Mille Lacs area economic recovery and tourism funds while the lake suffers a walleye crisis. Students get a tax credit up to $1000 for school loan debt, and Minnesota United gets a property tax exemption and a liquor license for a new St. Paul soccer stadium.

But mostly, lawmakers sat around doing nothing. Some complained about secret talks, middle of the night meetings and no public input on billions of dollars in spending.

"Legislators are reading about what's happening in bills on Twitter. No one in the public has any idea what's going on here. This is no way to run a state.  Minnesotans hate it. They hate it. And they should," DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen said.

So with two hours left, here's your scorecard" Only a tax bill has passed. They are still debating the budget surplus bill, and the transportation and public works bills are nowhere to be seen.

So what happens if they don't reach agreements on those biggest bills of the year, or they run out of time when the clock strikes midnight?

If the clock hits midnight and bills aren't passed, lawmakers can't do anything. But the state will not shut down as a budget was passed last year and it isn't absolutely necessary for all of the bills to be passed. They want to pass the public works and transportation bills, but the clock is ticking.


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