MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Special Session came to a crashing halt Saturday morning passing none of the major bills both sides were hoping for.

While the debate around a police reform proposal received a lot of attention, the legislature’s failure to agree on other issues is having an impact on the bottom line of communities statewide.

There was no deal on an estimated $1.35 billion infrastructure and jobs bonding bill, and no deal on distributing $841 million in COVID-19 relief. All of that is money cities and counties were counting on.

Mayor Sean Dowse of Red Wing has this message for the legislature: “Please get the bonding bill done as soon as you can.”

Dowse is counting on $10 million from the bonding bill for a bridge to go over the railroad tracks to the island that is home to Treasure Island Casino, a nuclear power plant and the Prairie Island native community. No bridge means delays waiting for trains for thousands of motorists and, even more critically, first responders.

“It’s been ranked one of the top three projects by the Department of Transportation,” Dowse said.

Red Wing is also counting on some $800,000 in coronavirus aid.

“Get that out to greater Minnesota, Red Wing is not unique; towns all across the Minnesota need that money,” Dowse said.

In a sign of how badly communities need the COVID-19 money, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt cowrote a letter asking Gov. Tim Walz to hand out the $840 million using his emergency powers. Ironically it was Daudt’s and others’ concern about Walz’s emergency powers which held up passage of the bonding bill.

Walz has said he is hopeful the bonding bill will happen and right now he is studying how to allocate the COVID-19 money. Walz is expected to announce he is calling another special session later this week. That would give legislators a third chance to pass these critical bills.

Esme Murphy

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