MN State Lawmakers hope to make bonding bill a reality in 2014

By KBJR News 1

MN State Lawmakers hope to make bonding bill a reality in 2014

January 11, 2014 Updated Jan 11, 2014 at 9:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Falling on an even–numbered year, this year's Minnesota legislative session is traditionally a shorter one.

"The Minnesota legislature is part time," said State Senator Roger Reinert, of Duluth. "It's supposed to be shorter like this so that people can be in their communities, working their other jobs, and be part–time citizen legislators."

For Senator Reinert, that means prioritizing projects for the Zenith City.
Among them: renovations for the historic NorShor Theatre, along with repairs and improvements to Wade Stadium and the Lake Superior Zoo.

Senator Reinert says taking the city's ski resort Spirit Mountain off Duluth's treated water system, allowing them to remove snow–making water from the Saint Louis Bay, is also a top priority.

"It decreases a load on the city's water system," listed Sen. Reinert, "which is becoming an issue as we see more development occurring in the western part of the city."

District 6B Representative Jason Metsa, of Virginia, says last year would have been the best year for borrowing money with interest rates as low as they were. However, Rep. Metsa says it's all the more reason to borrow this year.

"I would say as long as interest rates are low, we should be taking advantage of the state, for the long–term benefit of the taxpayer, of borrowing the money when it's inexpensive to borrow," said Rep. Metsa.

Rep. Metsa says the Iron Range has numerous projects hoping to make the bonding bill cut. Those include projects at Giant's Ridge, the relocation of Highway 53 in Virginia, and a new terminal at the Range Regional Airport, in Hibbing.

Representative Carly Melin, of Hibbing, is also hoping renovations at the Range Regional Airport make it onto a 2014 bonding bill.

"There are a lot of construction jobs out there, waiting for us to get this bonding bill passed," said Dist. 6A Rep. Melin, standing in the Range Regional Airport terminal.

But she also recognizes the difficulty in passing a bonding bill, as it requires a super majority—or 2/3rds vote—to pass.

"It requires both parties to work together, and it requires [having] statewide projects," said Rep. Melin. "So, I think that's really important, especially in Greater Minnesota."

...all in an effort to get Minnesota taxpayers the biggest bang for their bonding buck – expected to top out at nearly a billion dollars.

The legislative session is scheduled to begin on February 25th.
Legislators expect the session to run for two months.

Billy Wagness
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