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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota House Republicans are threatening to block a billion-dollar public works and jobs bill unless Democratic Gov. Tim Walz gives up his emergency COVID-19 powers.

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The governor says he is still hopeful that bill will happen, but he said he is not giving up those emergency powers. He says they have allowed the state to move quickly on a number of issues, including creating a COVID-19 testing partnership.

The state was flush with cash at the beginning of the legislative session, and the and the debate was how big the bonding bill would be.

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The bill is where the state borrows money in excess of a billion dollars for infrastructure projects that create thousands of jobs.

The catch is that the bonding bill requires a 3/5 vote for passage, which means Republicans in the House can and say they will block it. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says the legislature needs to have more input into the governor’s big decisions.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to pass a bonding bill during the state of emergency,” Rep. Daudt said. “Because they do need our votes to pass it, and it must originate in the House, this is the one lever that we have.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says he wants more input, too — but not at the expense of the bonding bill.

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“The sooner we get the legislative bodies working with the governor, the better off I think we’ll be,” Gazelka said. “But I’m not making that a condition of working on a bonding bill.”

Gov. Walz sounded optimistic a bill will happen.

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“There’s strong bi-partisan support to do this,” Walz said. “These are bridge projects, these are water treatment plant projects, these are quality-of-life enhancements.”

The governor and Republicans agree the bonding bill would bring badly-needed jobs to a state whose economy, like much of the rest of the country has been shattered by the coronavirus.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn its entire session two weeks from Monday, so any compromise on a bonding will have to come soon. But timeline are fluid this session, as the virus continues to dictate not just state policy, but even when state policy happens.

Looking ahead, the governor say he will likely announce the end of some restrictions on elective surgeries Tuesday.

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Esme Murphy