MARSHALL (KMHL) – Lawmakers appear to have a big task ahead of them in the 2020 Legislative session. The session, which is normally what lawmakers call a bonding session or a policy session, looks like it could be a tricky one for lawmakers.
The main task of the session will be completing a bonding bill for state-backed construction projects. So prior to the session, members of the House Capital Investment Committee are out touring projects requesting state dollars to help determine which projects should get state money. Those tours brought lawmakers to Marshall and southwest Minnesota yesterday.
House Capital Investment Committee Chair Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL – Duluth) says there is a lot of need, not just in southwest Minnesota, but across the whole state. She says the state can invest more than it has been in recent years into construction projects.
“We have to do better than we’ve ever done before and we have to get ahead,” said Murphy. “We need to be able to keep up with the upkeep. We have to get ahead of the game to do that, and in order to do that we need a $3.5 billion bill.”
Murphy says they have been told Minnesota has the capacity to bond for a bill that size without hurting the state’s credit rating.
But will lawmakers be willing to consider a bonding bill of that size — remains to be seen. Republicans, don’t appear to be willing to go that high, at this point.
“We get a lot of asks, we’ll probably get three times as many as we’re going to have for a bonding bill,” said Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent). “My guess is it will end up somewhere between $700 million, or $800 million potentially is probably around size for a bonding bill, after that we’ll see.”
Swedzinski says the tours help lawmakers prioritize the asks for construction dollars so they can prioritize what projects really need to be completed.
The 2020 legislative session is set to open on Feb. 11.