MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The sixth time is the charm as a $1.9 billion jobs and infrastructure bonding bill passed in the Minnesota House late Wednesday night.

After a vote of 100 to 34, it now must pass in the Minnesota Senate.

Six Republican votes were needed for its passage in the House, despite the GOP’s continued concerns about the overall cost of the bill during a time of a $2.4 billion state budget deficit.

“The construction projects and investing in our state’s infrastructure are incredibly important and will aide us in a quicker recovery and a smoother recovery out of this recession. We also have to be cognizant of not making sure that we add to debt,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said.

This all comes roughly five months after the end of the regular session. There have been a number of special sessions that have convened in the interim, none of which resulted in the passage of a bonding bill. It’s failed to pass in the legislature six times this year.

“The bill is chock-full of jobs the most important reason to pass this bill is the jobs that the bonding portion of the bill creates but every portion of this bill is essential to economic recovery in COVID-19,” Democratic House Speaker Rep. Melissa Hortman said.

They had tweaked the bill to add projects in Republican areas, and there was reportedly a lot of support for the bill as a general stimulus in a time of COVID-19.

There is $25 million in the bill to prevent flooding in Henderson. The project would elevate the road connecting Highway 93 to Interstate 169 so the road can stay open and not close every time it floods.

Gov. Tim Walz and Republican legislators who represent that area were down there this summer to call attention to this problem. That’s just one example of the kind of projects in this bill. It also contains $300 million for trunk highways, $324 million for miscellaneous transportation projects, $269 million for improvements to public facilities and $75 million for the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Senate is not scheduled to be in session until Thursday morning, and three-fifths will have to approve it.

It was slow going among the arguments on the floor slowing things down, such as a heated objection from Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski, questioning the speaker’s authority to require masks on the floor.

Esme Murphy

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