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MAPA 2018 Legislatvie Session Preview

February 15, 2018

Jim Wafler, MAPA Lobbyist

The 2018 session of the Minnesota Legislature convenes on February 20, and is expected to last until mid-May. This is the second session of this biennium, and the focus traditionally has been on state capital investment projects. Legislative leaders and the Governor are already promising a friendly, cooperative session, but don’t place any bets on that happening quite yet.

There are two major issues that must be dealt with:  another capital investment bill, and federal conformity to the federal $1.5 trillion tax cut bill. Both of these issues have the capability of being very contentious and time-consuming as the session continues.

BONDING FOR MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

What can transportation expect this round? There is the possibility for more bonding money for local roads and bridges, since demand among local units of government is high—a backlog of applications remains. We will be shooting for $100 million more for each of these programs, but how much is realistic depends on factors such as the ultimate size of the bonding bill (likely to be considerably less than $1 billion) and fiscal implications of competing projects. So far, while Governor Dayton has proposed an ambitious plan for infrastructure bonding (particularly wastewater treatment facilities), he has not mentioned any further recommendations for roads and bridges.

CONSTITUTIONAL DEDICATION OF SALES TAX ON AUTO PARTS TO TRANSPORTATION

There is also a chance that legislative leaders may decide to back a constitutional amendment to dedicate the sales tax on auto parts (generating up to $300 annually and now part of the state’s General Fund) to transportation. That amendment would be on the ballot this November if passed by the Legislature. Our goal must be to make sure that any amendment guarantees 100% of that sales tax revenue gets dedicated to transportation. [Right now, the legislature has statutorily dedicated only $31.5 million/yr. for 2018-19, and $145 million/yr. for each fiscal year after that.]

 

TRANSPORTATION DAY AT THE CAPITOL

Transportation Day at the Capitol 2018 will be held on March 7 at the Capitol Ridge Hotel (the former Kelly Inn across the street from MnDOT Headquarters). We expect all the major legislative leaders to attend, so let’s try once again to have a big showing.

 

Finally, I am finally retiring from lobbying as of December 31, 2018. It has been a real pleasure for me to work with MAPA over the years. You will be in good hands with Marty Seifert, who will be working with me this session.

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