MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) –The Minnesota House passed an omnibus transportation bill Wednesday, ensuring more than 200 road construction projects can move forward.
The bill was passed on a vote of 112-21. It includes money for two new bus rapid transit lines for the Twin Cities area. It preserves the Northstar commuter rail line. It includes $10 million to leverage federal matching funds for a second daily Amtrak train between St. Paul and Chicago.READ MORE: Woman Injured In Shooting In Brooklyn Park Basement
House Republicans said the final bill removes all $1.6 billion in tax hikes passed during the 2021 regular session and includes funding for additional State Patrol troopers, as well as pay raises for law enforcement including the State Patrol.
Another key provision in the bill is the reopening of all 93 driver testing locations in hopes of clearing the driving test backlog, as well as a pilot program for same-day driver’s license processing.
The state will also pay to outfit 12,000 school buses with security cameras to catch drivers who ignore bus stop signals. The Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association estimates that 100,000 drivers unlawfully pass school buses while the stop-arm is extended per year, and only a fraction of that number is ticketed for that violation.
The Senate could give the package final approval as soon as Thursday and send it to Gov. Tim Walz.READ MORE: Duluth Man Rescued After Cellphone Directions Put Him On Remote Road
The transportation budget, which funds road projects, state patrol and more, was among several pieces of the $52 billion total in state spending hanging over the legislature in the final days of the fiscal year. In addition to infrastructure projects, the budget includes money for body cameras for state patrol and capitol security.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation sent formal notices to contractors last week of a possible government shutdown. Separately, state agencies earlier this month sent notices to state employees of the possibility of layoffs if a budget isn’t complete before the end of the month.
Four other budget bills that passed both chambers this week are awaiting the governor’s signature. They include agriculture, commerce and energy, higher education, and projects financed through the state’s Legacy Amendment.
House and Senate negotiators have agreed on most of the other budget bills that must pass by July 1 to avert a partial government shutdown. The thorniest remaining disputes are over the public safety budget, and whether to include new police accountability measures on top of those passed last summer following the death of George Floyd.MORE NEWS: North Minneapolis Hit-And-Run Victim ID'd As Caleb Hutchins
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)