Legislative Alert: 2020 Legislative Session Concludes Without Bonding Bill

With the time to pass bills for the 2020 Legislative Session expiring at 12:00 a.m., the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate were unable to come to an agreement on a bonding bill.

A bonding bill is a piece of legislation that authorizes the issuing of bonds and other capital to pay for certain construction projects and infrastructure upgrades. Projects are only eligible for this type of bonding if they are publicly-owned and designated as infrastructure. Bonding bills typically include projects requests by local governments, state institutions of higher learning, and other public entities. These bonds come in the form of general obligation bonds and are guaranteed by the state.

While many agreed-upon bills passed the DFL-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate in the final days of legislative session, passing a bonding bill is a more complex task for the legislature. A bonding bill is the only type of legislation to need a higher threshold than a simple majority to pass – requiring a three-fifths vote in support in each chamber:

  • With the DFL holding 75 of 134 House seats, at least six votes are needed from Republican members to pass a bonding bill in the House.
  • With Republicans holding 35 of 67 Senate seats, at least six votes are needed from DFL members to pass a bonding bill in the Senate.

While both chambers put forward a bonding bill for a vote this weekend, neither bill received the three-fifths support needed to pass. 

One of the dynamics in the bonding negotiations among the four caucus leaders and Governor Tim Walz has been House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt's (R-Crown) position that his caucus will not put forward the votes for a bonding bill while the governor's emergency powers remain in effect. 

“House Republicans are ready and willing to work with the governor on the COVID response, keeping people safe, and on a bonding bill, but it's time for the governor to work with the legislature on our path forward. The governor needed his emergency powers to navigate the fast-moving crisis, but after two months of unilateral power and decision-making it's time for him to work with us on decisions and actions regarding the future of the state," said Daudt in earlier this month.

Currently, Governor Walz's Executive Order 20-53 declaring a peacetime emergency is in effect until June 12. If the governor were to choose to extend the order again, he is required to call the legislature back into session. At that point, the legislature would have the opportunity to rescind the governor's the declaration of emergency by a majority vote of both chambers.

Legislators are anticipating that a special session will occur in June, if not sooner, to address the governor's executive order, COVID-19 related needs, and other state priorities. 

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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