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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL)

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Release: Minnesota House expected to advance package of transportation investments

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

St. Paul, Minn. Later this evening, the Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to approve a package of $225 million in General Fund investments for Minnesota’s transportation system. The legislation balances addressing current transportation needs while building a stronger and more sustainable transportation system moving forward by leveraging multimodal federal investments, advancing climate initiatives, and improving safety for all users. 

“Our supplemental transportation budget dedicates robust investments in our transportation infrastructure, while addressing the climate crisis by cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the House Transportation Committee. “Everyone in our state should feel safe when they’re traveling, regardless of the mode or zip code. This comprehensive bill will address the need in every corner of the state for years to come.” 

“Minnesotans deserve a safe, reliable, and equitable transportation system that gets workers to their jobs, students to the classroom, and goods to stores and markets,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “With a historic state budget surplus and an unprecedented influx of federal infrastructure funding thanks to President Biden and Democrats in Congress, the Minnesota Legislature has an opportunity this year to deliver big results.”

House DFLers are prioritizing safety investments in their transportation proposal, with a variety of measures including creating a Traffic Safety Advisory Council to collaborate on innovative and cross-sector solutions to counter Minnesota’s growing problem with dangerous driving and traffic fatalities, authorizing the Met Council to issue administrative citations for fare evasion, and requiring reporting on steps being taken to address transit safety. It provides funding to help ensure Minnesota students can safely walk and bike to school and commits ongoing investments in active transportation to ensure communities have safe nonmotorized options. Additionally, the bill includes $80 million in trunk highway bonds to repair and replace crumbling, high priority bridges.

“Our legislation delivers the resources needed to help Minnesota access the historic federal investment in our communities,” said Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park), vice chair of the House Transportation Committee. “Keeping our transportation infrastructure safe, clean, and equitable for all is vital; moving around in a multi-modal system contributes to our vibrant and growing state and is necessary to create more economic opportunities for everyone.” 

The transportation bill makes significant strides to cut greenhouse gas emissions and build a healthier Minnesota for every community. It advances bus rapid transit network planning, funds the purchase of electric transit vehicles, and provides for the establishment of additional living snow fences and roadside habitat. Notably, the bill also provides $85 million for the state’s expected share of the Northern Lights Express (NLX) passenger rail project from the Twin Cities to Duluth. 

“With Minnesota’s transportation system receiving a ‘C’ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers today, it’s clear Minnesota needs to do more to build the 21st century transportation system Minnesotans deserve,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “This is an economic issue, an equity issue, a public safety issue, and an environmental issue, and we’re better positioned to make progress thanks to historic federal infrastructure funding made possible by President Biden and Democrats in Congress.” 

The bill also contains important changes to improve efficiencies in Minnesota’s driver and vehicle services. The legislation provides increased funding for deputy registrars, improves online exam appointment scheduling, waives the knowledge test requirement for Minnesota applicants 21 or older with a valid out of state license and requires DVS to create a Real ID preapplication process.

The legislation House Democrats are championing also expands First Responder survivor benefits to include those who lost loved ones to cancer or PTSD-related suicide resulting from their service.

The bill can be accessed online here.