Minnesota House passes bonding bill

After six months of debate and deliberation, the Minnesota House last night passed a nearly $1.9 billion borrowing package, which includes over $10.1 million in funds for Bemidji’s water treatment plant.

The bill is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor today.

Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) voted in favor of the package Wednesday night, and Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook) voted against it.

“Now more than ever, we need to update our aging infrastructure and ensure communities can maintain services that Minnesotans depend on like clean drinking water and safe roads, “ said Persell.

“Investing in local jobs and projects will create good-paying jobs across the state and quicken our economic recovery. Our state is strongest when we put people before politics and come together to deliver results, and this bill will help Minnesotans get through this crisis and thrive for years to come.” 

The legislation contains funding for projects such as Deer River’s sewer and water system and the Northwest Indian Community Development Center, as well as Bemidji’s water plant.

Twenty-five Republicans moved across the aisle to vote in favor of the package, that includes $1.36 billion in general obligation bonding, and would also provide tax relief for farmers and small businesses, funding for low-income housing and $31 million in supplemental General Fund budget spending.

The bill delivers funding for a temporary pay raise for personal care assistants, $16 million for direct care and treatment programs$10.3 million to ensure sexual assault examination kits get tested, a salary increase for state troopers to keep them in line with other law enforcement agencies, and $7.5 million to prevent the closure of two smaller correctional facilities at Togo and Willow River. 

Bemidji’s water treatment plant is slated to cost around $16 million in total, and is designed to clean the forever chemical known as PFAs out of the drinking water supply. Bemidji’s wells are directly under the Bemidji Regional Airport. Construction on the plant began earlier this year.

PFAs are a chemical compound found in products such as Teflon, Scotchguard, and were in a firefighting foam used by firefighters at the Bemidji Regional Airport decades ago.

Bemidji’s bonding request includes language that if litigation against the manufacturer of the foam, 3M, is successful, the city would reimburse the state $4 million.

According to state health guidelines, PFAs consumption can have long-term health effects for bottle-fed infants, as well as for pregnant and nursing mothers.

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