Minnesota Legislature Passes a Bonding Bill on Oct 15
On October 15th, 2020, the Senate passed HF1, a comprehensive bill that includes bonding projects, tax conformity and a small amount of supplemental funding for a total of $1.9 billion. It passed the Senate by a vote of 63-3 and it passed the House on October 14th (100-34) with broad bi-partisan support. After a delay of five months and five special legislative sessions, the passage of this bill in essence concludes the business of the legislature for the rest of the year. Any additional special legislative sessions will only be to address future extensions of COVID emergency powers (or some other emergency but let’s hope not!).
As it relates to townships, there were a number of items of interest in HF1 including:
- Flood hazard mitigation funding for Round Lake Township (Jackson County) and Sioux Valley Township (Jackson County)
- $1 million in Shade Tree Program grants for townships as well as cities, counties and particular park boards
- $950 thousand for an ATV “Country Trail” to go through Kabetogama Township (St. Louis County)
- $1.5 million for an I-35E interchange in White Bear Township
- $500 thousand to White Bear Township for pedestrian trail improvements
- A portion of $20.5 million will go to Becker Township for water infrastructure improvements to a business park
- $7.5 million in water distribution infrastructure improvements for Twin Lakes Township
The final piece of funding in HF1 of interest to townships includes $5 million earmarked specifically in the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) to help towns upgrade their roads to 10-ton capacity. While on the surface, that is a success for townships. The intention is to have these $5 million added to what townships normally receive. However, MAT is concerned that MnDOT may misinterpret this allocation.
In the past, all townships combined have received up to $12 million in LRIP funds in one year. MAT’s intention with the legislation was the $5 million would be in addition to the average annual amount given to townships. With the passage of HF1, it is possible that MnDOT will misinterpret the intent of the bill and use the $5 million mark as funding threshold. MAT staff and Fredrikson & Byron lobbyists will be working with MnDOT and key legislators to clarify the intent to make sure that townships receive an adequate amount.
If you have any questions on these provisions, don’t hesitate to contact the MAT Offices.