In less than two weeks, the Minnesota Legislature will reconvene, and although the second half of the biennium is shorter, it will likely be another busy session. Because it is not a budget year, the Legislature will be focused primarily on the bonding bill and policy issues. For GMPT, we have several priorities for 2024. We would like to see more funding for the DNR’s local park and trails grant programs and will be pushing for the inclusion of such funds in the bonding bill.
A bonding bill was unveiled late Sunday night, which was the final day that Legislature was allowed to pass bills under the state Constitution. The House and Senate both passed a bonding bill, but the language between the two versions was slightly different. Because the two bodies did not pass identical bills before the Legislature adjourned at midnight, the bonding bill failed.
Unless Governor Dayton calls a special session, the bonding bill is dead until next year. At this point, the Governor has not stated whether he plans to call a special session, and he is the only person with authority to do so. The main conflict in the bonding bill is a struggle over light-rail transit in the metro area, with the House GOP firmly opposed to light rail project and a significant portion of Senate DFL demanding it.
The final bonding bill consisted mainly of projects that were in the initial Senate or House proposals. Even though the grant program we were supporting did not make it into the final bill, a number of projects supported by GMPT members (either directly, or because they’re close to member cities/counties) were included: Gitchi-Gami Trail, Glacial Lakes Trail, Goodhue Heartland Trail, Cuyuna State Recreation Area, Vermillion/Soudan State Park and Lake County Prospectors ATV Trail System. A copy of the bill that passed in the House can be found here.
If one of your projects was in the bill, we urge you to do the following:
2) Contact your legislator (assuming they supported the project) and the bonding committee chairs, Rep. Paul Torkelson and Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, to thank them for their support to date. You can find the contact information for your legisators here for House and here for Senate.
If you have any questions, please contact GMPT’s lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel at firstname.lastname@example.org.