In 2019, Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman appointed me chair of the House Capital Investment Committee. I have never been so challenged or worked so hard. I was charged with crafting a bipartisan bonding bill that was regionally balanced and addressed critical public infrastructure needs in every corner of the state. This is exactly what I have done.
On Wednesday, the bonding bill that I chief authored passed the Minnesota House of Representatives on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 100-34 after nearly 10 hours of debate. Two previous bonding bills had failed to receive the required supermajority vote on the House floor, and this was our last chance. A day later, on Thursday, the Minnesota Senate passed the bill on a vote of 64-3. This week, Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign it into law.
This was one of my proudest accomplishments in my tenure at the Minnesota House.
The bill contains $1.37 billion in general obligation bonding for public safety and health renovations, repairs, and the replacement of public assets. Those assets include higher-education buildings, clean-water infrastructure, correctional facilities, veterans’ homes, affordable housing, flood mitigation, dam safety, roads and bridges, riverbank stabilization, parks and trails, municipal buildings, and other local economic-development projects.
It funds $300 million in trunk highway bonds for state road construction, railroad grade separations, and Minnesota Department of Transportation facilities. It funds $147 million in appropriation bonds, including a record $100 million in housing infrastructure bonds to address affordable housing, a critical need that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. It also funds three Superfund sites for cleanup of contaminated groundwater at the Duluth dump, a Perham, Minnesota, arsenic site, and a former Minneapolis metal-plating site. It also pays for cleaning up the closed landfill in Brookston.
The bonding bill is forward looking and invests in solutions like transfer stations, resource recovery, and recycling projects to meet current and future needs over the next 20 years by diverting the demand for landfills.
One important area project is the $6.75 million for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District to construct engine generators to convert methane-rich biogas produced during wastewater treatment into electricity and heat.
Most projects included were the direct result of our regional bonding tours. The committee spent 17 days of the 2019 interim on the road traveling more than 3,200 miles, visiting sites and receiving presentations on more than 250 state-agency and local projects. We listened to Minnesotans in their hometowns, and what we heard was powerful. The House Capital Investment Committee also held 43 hearings and heard 221 bills during the 2019-20 session before COVID-19 forced hearings to be held remotely.
At a time when Minnesota’s economy is suffering extreme stress due to the pandemic, our bonding bill will create jobs and stimulate economic growth. It is estimated to create approximately 27,540 jobs and will spur statewide economic activity to quicken our economic recovery and to help Minnesotans thrive for generations to come.
During the August bond sale, we received the lowest interest rates in state history, so it is a wise time to bond and stretch our taxpayer dollars further.
I hope I have made you proud with my work on the bonding bill.
In the coming legislative session, one of our major responsibilities will be redrawing district lines based on the 2020 Census. The last time this was done, I was the lead Democrat on the House Redistricting Committee.
I ask for your support so I can continue putting my experience to work for you. Thank you for the continued trust you have placed in me to be your state representative.
Mary Murphy of Hermantown is the DFL representative of Minnesota House District 3B. She is being challenged in the Nov. 3 election by Republican Andy Hjelle of Hermantown. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.