Lawmaker says rail line from N. Minneapolis to prison would be 'convenient'


"Boy, wouldn't that be convenient to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis."

That's what Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, said during Tuesday night's debate on the Republican transportation budget, the UpTake says.

His comment, which almost immediately drew boos from the House chamber, came after Democrats tried to amend the bill to include funding for a feasibility study to extend the Minneapolis-Big Lake Northstar Commuter line to St. Cloud, the Star Tribune notes.

Newberger is against more funding for the rail line and doesn't want to see it expand into St. Cloud because the tracks would go by the Minnesota Correction Facility, the UpTake says.

The lawmaker quickly apologized for naming North Minneapolis – a racially diverse area of the state – saying:

"But that's what came into my mind. It doesn't matter, it could be any part of the city. But if you're going to connect a large metro to a prison there's going to be some concerns. I would be lying if I said there wasn't."

But Gov. Mark Dayton says his apology doesn't suffice, and he's calling for House leadership to reprimand the lawmaker.

Dayton told reporters Wednesday he thinks "it’s horrible, I think he should be reprimanded, if not censured, by his leadership. The fact that nobody has made comment on that in House leadership, I think is appalling,” the Star Tribune reports.

The governor called for House leadership to publicly state his comment was "unacceptable. It's disgraceful," the Star Tribune notes.

Newberger issued an apology Wednesday afternoon saying: "I sincerely apologize. I recognize my comments last night offended some people. I will work in the future to not repeat this mistake," according to Star Tribune reported Abby Simons on Twitter.

House leadership has not yet commented, but it didn't go unnoticed by House members Tuesday night. Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, waited hours before commenting on what Newberger said, the UpTake reports.

Watch what she said here.

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