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'We're 72 Hours Away': Gov. Walz Urges State Legislature To Pass Bonding Bill Before Special Session Adjourns

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) The goals of the Minnesota lawmakers' during the special session were twofold: modifying policies of police reform and accountability, and building a strong and equitable economy.

Gov. Tim Walz however, said in a press conference Tuesday that he has yet to see a copy of the local jobs and projects bill - otherwise known as the bonding bill - from the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate. He urged the legislature to pass the $2.6 billion bill, which would be invested in infrastructure and bring back lost jobs.

One of the projects Walz highlighted in the press conference was the North Commons Vision - a new recreation and art facility at North Commons Park in Minneapolis. Al Bangoura, the superintendent of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board said the project would include a large basketball park, track, and would create over 200 jobs within Minneapolis.

Red Wing Mayor Sean Dowse was also at the press conference in support of the bill. Red Wing is seeking $10.6 million in bonds for a rail project that would create a safer access to the Prairie Island Native American community and a nearby casino.

"Red Wing is not alone," Dowse said. "Bemidji needs clean drinking water. Albert Lea needs to stop a local highway from flooding. Wright County needs a dental center for thousands of low-income residents who have no access to dental care right now."

The bonding bill originated in January of 2020 and was on the docket in May, but failed to pass on the last day of the 2020 Legislative Session.  At the time, Walz placed the blame on Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who at one point said he wouldn't agree to the bonding bill unless the governor gave up his COVID-19 emergency powers. 

The tension between Walz and the Republicans was still apparent Tuesday. Republican Senate Majority leader Paul Gazelka says the highest amount he will approve for the bill is $1.35 billion.

On Tuesday, Daudt said the House's priority is "reducing our budget deficit and ending the governor's emergency powers. If the governor and the other legislative leaders are willing to have a discussion on those items, we remain open to a bonding bill."

The Senate was originally supposed to vote on their bonding bill Tuesday afternoon, but moved the vote to Friday. If they don't finish by Friday, Gov. Walz encouraged them to stay longer and make sure the bill is passed. However, Senate leader Paul Gazelka said they will go home on Friday, which would end the special session.


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