DFLers reach deal on construction bill, but need GOP votes

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Minnesota DFL legislators have agreed on a more than $1 billion package of building and construction projects statewide, a key piece of legislation that lawmakers want to act on before the session ends next week.

Leaders in the House and Senate had earlier proposed construction bills that were quite a bit different, and it's taken a round of negotiations to come up with a list that is agreeable to both chambers.

The projects will be paid for through the sale of $846 million in bonds and an additional $200 million in cash.

Among the items included:

– $126 million for completion of the State Capitol renovation.

– $240 million in higher education projects for the University of Minnesota and MnSCU.

– More than $100 million for roads, bridges and vital transportation infrastructure.

– $100 million for affordable housing.

– $22 million for the Lewis and Clark water project in southwestern Minnesota.

Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, helped put the deal together.

“We have worked hard to put together a statewide bonding bill that makes strategic investments that will create thousands of jobs and support the continued growth of Minnesota’s economy," she said in a statement. "This bill will benefit Minnesotans across the state at a time when our economy is continuing to improve."

The list includes projects in just about every corner of the state. You can see the full list here.

But it's not a done deal just yet. The bonding bill needs a three-fifths majority vote to pass in each house, so some Republicans will need to vote in favor of it, along with all the DFLers.

MPR News reports that Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt has yet not signed off on the bill, according to DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen, even though Democrats agreed to keep the total cost of the package at $846 million and include funding for the Lewis and Clark project, in exchange for enough Republican votes to pass the bill.

Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, is lobbying to include full funding for the Lewis & Clark project – which is about $67 million, according to MPR News. He said the GOP caucus will be united on that point, and he thinks there's still room for negotiation.

Democrats have also removed a measure that would ban the state from requiring sprinklers in new homes that are 4,500 square feet or larger. Gov. Dayton said he would veto the bill if the clause was included.

Thissen said the House will vote on the bonding bill Thursday.

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