Publisher’s Perspective

By Tim Douglass, Publisher of the Pope County Tribune

The community received some good news last Monday when the Minnesota House of  Representatives provided broad, bipartisan approval of legislation including $4 million to complete a rehabilitation of Central Square in Glenwood.

Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, authored legislation to provide the Glenwood project’s funding. It ultimately was included in a larger package of infrastructure funding using cash from the state’s $17.5 billion surplus. In total, the bill (H.F. 670) appropriates approximately $392 million from the general fund.

The bill passed easily 98-36 in the House. It now is in the hands of the Senate, which could approve it as-is and send it to the governor for enactment, according to our Rep. Paul Anderson.  Any amended language added by the Senate would result in a joint House-Senate conference committee working to prepare the bill final passage, he said.

As I write this, a number of local leaders are contacting Sen. Torrey Westrom and other area state senators to encourage them to pass the bill.

While the traditional bonding bill could be held up by politics in the Senate, we are hopeful that the “cash” portion of this bill with funding from the surplus is passed easily on a bi-partisan manner like it was in the House.

But nothing is that easy,  On the bonding bill passed by the House, a Senate GOP press release stated that “…Senate Republican leaders presented a win-win option for Minnesotans still waiting for tax cuts while Democrats jam a bonding bill through the House floor without the votes needed to pass the Senate.”

“We want to make sure the Bonding bill gets through, but we are very concerned that the tax cuts get through as well. As the House debates their bonding bill, that bill is dead on arrival until we see tax cuts. It’s March 6th, it’s very early for a bonding bill in session, but we could easily get it done early if we get the tax cuts Minnesotans need,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (East Grand Forks) said in the news release.  “This could be a win-win. We are ready to pass tax cuts and a bonding bill, but we have to put the needs of Minnesotans first.”

That signals how this bonding bill could again get bogged down.  The linking of the bonding bill and the tax bill , while political strategy, is something we think can be worked out by the end of this session.  Let’s hope it’s soon rather than last minute.

Meanwhile, thank you to Rep. Paul Anderson for his work and for the bipartisan support in the House.

Fingers crossed.  See a report on the house action on page 12B.