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Minnesota House passes $1.9 billion public works bill

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a nearly $1.9 billion public works spending bill in its fifth special session of the year.

The bonding bill would fund infrastructure projects across the state, affordable housing and tax relief. Requiring a three-fifths majority to pass, the bill received bipartisan support. While six Republicans were needed to get the bill past the threshold, 25 voted in support.

“Minnesotans are asking the Legislature to invest in the things that will help them weather these difficult times and thrive when the pandemic ends,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler in a statement. “This legislation will save and create thousands of jobs across our state, support our working families, and help build a better future for all Minnesotans.”

The bill allocates $55 million to the Metropolitan Council to support bus rapid transit. Money from the bill will also go toward testing untested rape kits across the state and providing a temporary pay raise for personal care assistants.

The bill also includes tax relief for farmers and small businesses, allowing them to deduct certain property costs in the first year, rather than over five years.

“All Minnesotans deserve safe, healthy, and inclusive communities,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman in a statement. “At a time when Minnesota's economy is suffering extreme stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that the state legislature do everything it can to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. This bill will create jobs and provide projects our communities need."

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The bill still faces challenges heading into the Republican-controlled Senate, which is scheduled to vote on the bill on Thursday.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Benson tweeted on Wednesday that the Senate needs time to negotiate changes made in the House. The House adjourned shortly after passing the bonding bill. 

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