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DFL Lawmakers Finalize Bonding Bill, Remove Controversial Item

Updated: 05/14/2014 10:38 PM
Created: 05/14/2014 10:17 PM WDIO.com

Minnesota House and Senate DFL leaders on Wednesday have reached a compromise on a bonding bill. However, Republicans say they haven't agreed to anything yet and some GOP votes will be required.

The bill no longer includes a controversial provision that would have prohibited a new state building code mandate for home fire sprinklers from going into effect. Under the rule supported by the Dayton administration, all newly-constructed single-family homes over 4,500 square feet will require installation of fire sprinklers. Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to veto the entire bonding bill if it remained.

The sprinkler mandate is supported by Minnesota firefighter organizations who say it will save lives of homeowners and firefighters. The Builders Association of Minnesota is fiercely opposed, saying it will add at least $9,000 to the cost of new homes. 

As for the package of building projects, they will now total more than $1 billion. It includes $846 million financed through general obligation bonds and an additional bill that includes $278 million in projects paid for with surplus dollars.

Other highlights of the Capital Investment bill include:

$126 million for completion of the State Capitol renovation

$240 million in higher education projects for the University of Minnesota and MnSCU

More than $100 million for roads, bridges and vital transportation infrastructure.

$100 million for housing, the largest investment in state history.

"We have worked hard to put together a statewide bonding bill that makes strategic investments that will create thousands of jobs," says Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, chairwoman of the House Capital Investment Committee.

GOP House Republican leader, Rep. Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, says the bill was put together with little input from Republicans.

"Today's so-called agreement is nothing more than an idea between Democratic legislative leaders and not a plan Republicans agreed to or were involved in crafting," Daudt said in a statement late Wednesday. 

The borrowing portion of the projects do require a three-fifths majority of the legislature, so Republican votes will be needed.

The bill still needs to pass both the House and Senate.   The House is expected to vote on it Thursday.  Then it heads to the governor for his approval.

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