Bonding bill fails to pass

The Minnesota Legislature’s session ended last night without passing a bonding bill package.

The bonding package that passed out of a House Committee had about $2 billion in infrastructure and other projects, including $12.3 million for the city of Bemidji’s soon-to-be drinking water plant, as well as dollars for sewer and water system improvements for the city of Deer River.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt promised no bonding bill would pass unless Gov. Tim Walz ended the peacetime emergency order, and without the three-fifths supermajority constitutionally required, no deal was made last night in either legislative body.

Gov. Walz has not yet called the legislature to a special session, but Daudt anticipates the legislature will return in June.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Minnesota and North Dakota Chapter issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed that for the second year in a row, the Legislature, specifically the House Republican Caucus, failed to support a large infrastructure bill that would have created up to 30,000 construction jobs on local projects across the state,” said Joel Smith, President and Business Manager of LIUNA Minnesota and North Dakota.

“On top of blocking a $1 billion infrastructure bill in the 2019 legislative session, the House Republicans have now cost Minnesotans 45,000 construction jobs in less than a year. It is time for the House and Senate Republicans to put politics aside, and for our state leaders to come together and do what’s best for Minnesota in this COVID-19 economic crisis: pass a $2 billion infrastructure bill that will stimulate the economy and keep Minnesotans working.

“We commend and thank Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flanagan and the Minnesota Legislature, Republicans and DFLers, for their leadership and commitment to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The regular legislative session has concluded with unfinished critical business —  a $2 billion infrastructure bill, bipartisan legislation that would have created tens of thousands of local jobs in clean energy and fuels, and investments in affordable housing with adequate labor standards. We look forward to working with our state leaders when they return for a special session. Let’s get the job done.”

Bemidji’s water treatment plant, which is estimated to cost about $16 million, is being constructed as soon as this year to treat the water for perflouralkyl substances, PFAS or PFCS.

The Minnesota Department of Health has issued guidelines on safe levels of PFAS, which the city’s water currently exceeds.

PFAS, according to MDH, can cause long-term damage if consumed, especially for pregnant or nursing women and bottle-fed infants.

The PFAS in Bemidji’s water are linked to a firefighting foam, manufactured by 3M, from training exercises at the Bemidji Regional Airport decades ago.

City Finance Director Ron Eischens has said without the state bonding dollars, the cost of the plant will likely be borne by city utility customers.

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