Both the House and Senate ended their Regular Sessions minutes before midnight on Sunday, after passing or re-passing nearly all the ‘major’ bills. They did it with 4 minutes left to spare. It was remarkable how quickly they passed these items because only a day before, on Saturday, the major bills were either not yet passed or had already been vetoed by the Governor. The items important to townships remained in the bills passed by the Legislature, but we now wait for the Governor to act.
The Omnibus to End All Omnibus!?! The Supplemental Budget Omnibus bill (HF 4099 / SF 3656), at over 990 pages, nicknamed the mega-omnibus, omnibus-omnibus, and omnibus-prime – contains funding and policy changes for nearly all of MAT’s legislative priorities. The bill includes:
- $4 million for the town road account, nearly $11 million for local bridge replacement;
- $15 million for the Broadband Grant Program;
- $200,000 for reimbursement to local governments for costs associated with increased maintenance due to the Border-to-Border Touring Route proposed in Northern Minnesota;
- Amendments to the MS4 (Municipal Wastewater Treatment rules) permit process that would exempt non-urbanized portions of townships that otherwise must comply with those rules.
The bill passed the House and Senate this weekend and was sent to the Governor, who promptly suggested he would veto the bill. The Governor had listed 117 items he wanted changed or removed, none of which are township-related. The GOP leadership said they addressed over 70 of those items. The good news here is that the Legislature and Governor appear to agree on the appropriations and policy changes favorable to townships. The bad news is that threat of the veto remains over unrelated items in the bill.
Bonding … Capital Improvement Bonding: There is also township transportation funding proposed in the Bonding Bill (HF 1226). A revised bonding bill was released late Sunday, which includes:
- $35 million in undesignated Local Road Improvement Fund Grants;
- $5 million in the Local Bridge Replacement Program;
- $6.7 million in the Local Government Roads Wetland Replacement Program (Wetland credits fund).
Special Session – Is it really ‘special’ if it has become normal? No matter the answer to that question, we don’t know if the Governor will call a special session.