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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House Passes Compromise Transportation Budget

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

St. Paul, MN -- Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Transportation Budget Bill following a bipartisan compromise reached with the Senate. The legislation invests in all modes of transportation across the state by funding improvements for transit development and services, road safety improvements, and bridge replacements, freight and passenger rail projects, as well as active transportation modes.

“I’m proud we’ve reached bipartisan agreement with the Senate after working to secure strong transportation investments across the state,” said House Transportation Chair Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis). “Minnesotans expect us to improve and maintain our transportation system because it keeps us safe, creates good jobs in a time of economic recovery, and gives all people and communities the opportunity to grow and prosper.”

Minnesota’s 705 cities with populations under 5,000 receive no funding from gas tax proceeds toward local road and bridge infrastructure. To address this shortcoming, the budget invests $18 million in the Small Cities Assistance Program.The compromise transportation budget also notably invests $57.5 million in arterial Bus Rapid Transit, funds the 2nd daily train to Chicago, reopens driver’s exam locations closed due to COVID-19, ends driver’s license suspensions for non-public safety offenses, and delivers funds for needed road and bridge repairs and safety improvements statewide.

"Minnesotans deserve a reliable, sustainable, and equitable transportation system that ensures we can efficiently move goods and people throughout the state,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “While there is more work to be done to ensure we have a modern and efficient transportation system over the long term, our final budget makes needed investments in roads, bridges, rail, and transit across Minnesota.” 

The transportation budget prioritizes student safety by investing in safe routes to school to assist cities, counties, and towns statewide with local infrastructure projects to help ensure that students can safely walk or bike to school. The budget also contains grants to install cameras on school bus stop arms to help catch and enforce stop arm violations.

House DFLers prevailed with the inclusion of the elimination of suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay traffic tickets or failure to appear in court for either traffic tickets or driving after suspension. Other methods of enforcement and accountability such as collections remain in place along with suspensions for certain infractions with clear public safety objectives such as DUI, reckless driving, habitual offenders, etc. This reform measure will eliminate a policy that is disproportionately harming BIPOC and low-income Minnesotans while also freeing up court resources for more pressing matters, eliminating spiraling debt, and reducing unnecessary traffic stops. Additionally, the transportation budget contains funding for additional State Troopers, non-sworn Capitol Security officers, and body-worn cameras for all new positions. 

In recognizing the need to cut carbon emissions and protect water quality in Minnesota, House DFLers advocated for the inclusion of investments in liquid deicing chemicals to reduce the use of road salt, and requiring Metro Transit to develop a zero emission transit vehicle transition plan.

“Minnesota has the resources to build a quality system of roads, bridges and transit, but we are stuck in mediocrity,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “This is a problem we can solve but it won’t happen for free — we need to pay for it. Republicans have blocked the investments we need, and Democrats will keep pushing to better serve Minnesota.”

In reaching a compromise, Senate Republicans refused to agree on ongoing investments to provide long-term stability to transportation funding, electric vehicle infrastructure, and Metro Transit administrative citations, to bring the penalty for fare evasion in line with parking tickets.  

A spreadsheet of the investments contained within the legislation is available here. Video of the House Floor session will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.