The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

April 12, 2013

House DFL rallies support for budget items



Rep. Alice Hausman, chair of the Capital Investment Committee, needs to do more than hope for bipartisan support to get her bill passed. Because the bonding bill finances its construction work through borrowing, the state constitution requires 60 percent support in each body of the Legislature.

That means eight Republicans would have to join all of the majority Democrats in the House to reach the threshold and pass a bonding bill.

“That will be a harder challenge,” said Hausman, who anticipates her bill will be taken up after all other spending bills have been passed in the House.

The location of Friday’s meeting — the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center — was chosen because of Hausman’s bill. It provides $36.3 million for the first phase of a major renovation of the campus that will improve safety at the Minnesota Security Hospital and more thoroughly separate programs on the campus that serve predatory offenders from those that house other mentally ill people who are considered vulnerable adults.

Hausman said the Treatment Center project, which is expected to top $80 million when future phases are funded, is one of the  five largest projects in the bill. Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato, said it’s also one of the most important because it will eliminate blind spots in buildings and other physical features that make it easier for staff and patients to be attacked.

Speaking to Treatment Center employees at the event, Johnson said it’s only right that the state make the facility as safe as possible for workers who deal with some of Minnesotans most dangerous residents.

“Providing you the safest facility we can is really a state obligation,” Johnson said.

Hausman highlighted the St. Peter project, but she mentioned numerous others in the region that were included in the bill such as the Mankato civic center expansion, the upgrade of the tracks of the Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad (which serves Sibley County), maintenance dollars for Minnesota State University and Fort Ridgely State Park, funding for repairs at the Rapidan Dam and a municipal sewer upgrade in Truman.

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