Fast start for bonding bill

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When the Minnesota Legislature officially goes back to work at noon today, all eyes will be on the capital improvements borrowing (or bonding) bills that key committee chairs are expected to introduce right away.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, heads the Capital Investment Finance Division and is expected to introduce the House bonding bill when the committe meets today at 2:45 p.m.

More from CAPITOL REPORT: Pulling back the curtain on the legislature to “share what I know and give people a somewhat insider’s view of how decisions are actually made inside that building and how normal citizens can have the best chance of influencing those decisions.”

In the Senate, Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, heads the Senate Capital Investment Committee and is expected to introduce his bonding bill when it meets at 2 p.m.

Langseth in the past has written the Senate bill has pretty much written the bill by himself, while Hausman takes a more collaborative approach.

Both bills are expected to be significantly larger than the $685 million bonding bill Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed, which includes no funding for any construction projects desired by local governments.

I’ll update this post or write another one later on today comparing the bonding plans between the House, Senate and Pawlenty to show what big Twin Cities and rural Minnesota projects get off to a good start.

Typically, a request needs to be in at least one of the bills or Pawlenty’s recommendation, or it’s considered pretty much dead for the session. Items not included in the bills when they pass out of committee can be added via amendment on the floor, but like the overall bonding bills, those amendments must be approved by three-fifths of the voting members.

Lawmakers say they want to pass the bonding bill quickly and put Minnesotans to work, but typically, these bills get hung up in conference committee for a while during three-way negotiations over their final shape.