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A look at Duluth's legislative requests so far

The House floor is seen during the first day of the 2019 session of the Minnesota Legislature at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Jan. 8. John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

Lawmakers have poured hundreds of bills into the hopper as Minnesota’s legislative session heads toward week five.

While Northland legislators have sponsored a number of bills with statewide impact — on elder care, education and opioids, among other topics —  here’s a look at some of the Duluth-centric bills that have been introduced so far:

Duluth sales tax increase — House File 183, Senate File 119

It’s take two for a half-percent sales tax increase Duluth voters resoundingly approved in 2017.

After a bill failed to cross the finish line last year, legislators are again looking to grant Duluth voters’ wish to increase the local sales tax by 0.5 percent, to 8.875 percent, in order to spend more money fixing and maintaining roads.

The bill was referred to the Senate tax committee Jan. 14 and the House property and local tax subcommittee on Jan. 22.

Authors: Reps. Jen Schultz, Liz Olson and Mary Murphy; Sens. Erik Simonson and Tom Bakk

Lakewalk money — HF 184, SF 118

Here’s a proposal for the state to spend $7 million for Duluth to “predesign, design, construct, furnish and equip seawall infrastructure with related surface improvements, including a boardwalk and bike trails, public gathering spaces, and loading areas, along the shore of Lake Superior.” In other words, to repair and improve the Lakewalk.

The bill was referred to the Senate Capital Investment committee Jan. 14 and the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance subcommittee on Jan. 17.

Authors: Schultz, Olson, Murphy, Simonson, Bakk

Duluth Central High School redevelopment tax break — HF 435

This bill would provide a sales tax exemption worth up to $5 million for a private “redevelopment of the site of the former Duluth Central High School.” A state rebate would apply for purchases made between June 30 this year and Jan. 1, 2021.

The bill was referred to the House Tax committee Jan. 28. There was not a Senate companion bill as of Friday.

Authors: Schultz, Olson, Murphy

Northern Lights Express money — HF 387

At stake here is another step toward high-speed passenger rail linking Minneapolis and Duluth. This bill would commit $4 million in state money “for completion of engineering” of the project that is expected to cost at least $500 million in total.

The bill was referred to the House Transportation Finance and Policy subcommittee Jan. 28; there was not a Senate companion bill as of Friday.

Authors: Schultz, Olson, Murphy and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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