Observing the Senate Capital Investment Committee on Thursday, provided some interesting information when trying to glean an understanding of the potential for a Bonding Bill. A number of Republican Senators sat flanked by the respective mayors, city administrators and managers of cities in their districts before Committee Chair Sandy Pappas (DFL-65, St Paul) and the rest of the committee and discussed the significant need for state support for municipal water projects. During the testimony, we learned about the extensive problems of arsenic, manganese, nitrates, bacterial slime and mold. Additionally, we know segments of our state’s water is impacted by pharmaceuticals like antibiotics, and estrogen, which are even smaller chemicals in the system.
The list includes Sens Steve Green (R-02, Fosston) Paul Utke (R-05, Park Rapids), Jason Eichorn (R-06, Grand Rapids), Jason Rarick (R-11, Pine City), Gary Dahms (R-15, Redwood Falls), Andrew Lang (R-16, Olivia), John Jasinski (R-19, Faribault), Steve Drazkowski (R-20, Mazeppa), Bill Weber (R- 21, Luverne), Glen Dornik (R-23, Brownsdale), Mark Koran (R-28, North Branch), Bruce Anderson (R-29, Buffalo), Eric Lucero (R-30, St Michael) and Warren Limmer (R-37, Maple Grove).
This group of fourteen, may pose a problem for Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks) because, in spite of the fact, three of the requestors for state funding being Assistant Minority Leaders (Eichorn, Jasinski, and Weber), and passage of a Bonding Bill requiring 41 Senators, members will be hard pressed to vote against the bill if it contains these municipal projects.
Now, its also important to recognize the fact, many of these projects are not in the House Bonding Bill, and would require a significant expansion of the existing legislation. Chair Pappas has commented publically, in this first stage they are mainly lining up the Bill agreed to in 2022. So, this begs the question of whether or not they will be folded into this bill or if not then proposed one proposed further down the road.
A reading of the text of HF 670, shows us how easily the bill could be changed from a General Obligation Bill (Bonds) to a General Fund Bill (Cash) with a simple amendment. If so, then the passage—by simple majority—of a Cash Bill early in the session sets the stage for another bill later.
With this reality, Senators will either need to vote for a larger Bonding Bill in order to funding their local projects is juxtaposed against passage of the initial bill and unless Senate Republicans playball, the possibility of no support for their communities could be the end result. Of course, the DFL Majority could pass a bipartisan bill and include these projects and be the bigger party.
The palace intrigue is a very interesting game underway.