The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 17, 2013

Minnesota House defeats construction projects bill

(Continued)

While that bill won some Republican backing, the construction bill spurred partisan rancor in the House. Only three Republicans voted for the bill; Hausman said she had commitments of support from eight, which would have been enough to pass the bill; she wouldn't name who reneged.

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, rose angrily before the vote to complain that the fate of natural disaster aid for his southern Minnesota area was tied to the legislation.

"We are being held hostage!" Hamilton said. He voted against the bill.

GOP leaders had insisted for days that they wouldn't go along with a bill they considered too bulky.

"Time is running out and we shouldn't be distracted with borrowing huge amounts of money right now on the state's credit card," said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown.

Hausman said she wouldn't try to revive the bill. But few major bills are truly dead in the final hours of a legislative session. Lawmakers were preparing to work through the weekend, with late and even overnight sessions possible.

The state Capitol renovation project was the largest in the construction bill, consuming $109 million. Those overseeing the building work say the money is needed this year to avoid costly delays. Dayton and a bipartisan slate of lawmakers are on record supporting the fix-up to the 107-year-old state Capitol, where safety concerns have been patched over for years.

Lawmakers could insert money for the project in budget bills that haven't reached the floor yet.

Daudt wouldn't rule that out. "If they want to talk about an alternate plan, I'm happy to come to the table," he said.

Hausman said she didn't support borrowing for the Capitol renovation project separately.

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