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Minnesota Legislature: ‘I don’t see transportation being in play’

ST. PAUL -- Four days remain in the 2016 Minnesota legislative session and even those in charge do not seem to know how, or whether, they will finish major legislation dealing with transportation, taxes, budget and public works.Gov. Mark Dayton h...

ST. PAUL - Four days remain in the 2016 Minnesota legislative session and even those in charge do not seem to know how, or whether, they will finish major legislation dealing with transportation, taxes, budget and public works.
Gov. Mark Dayton hosted House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk for 15 minutes of negotiations Wednesday, the only high-level talks of the day. The three noted no progress when they emerged from the governor’s residence.
On transportation funding, Bakk said things are going in reverse.
“I don’t see transportation being in play any longer,” Bakk, D-Cook, said.
Daudt, R-Crown, said Tuesday that he wants to “set aside” transit funding until lawmakers agree on adding money for roads and bridges.
He said that he made that proposal because most in the Capitol appear to agree that more road and bridge money is needed, but Republicans oppose transit funding if it includes light rail projects.
Transit is a Democratic favorite.
Dayton, Daudt and Bakk agree that the state needs to pump $600 million a year more into transportation funding for the next decade.
A conference committee is meeting to decide how much to change a two-year budget enacted a year. And tax negotiators also are working out differences between House and Senate plans. But those and other bills cannot wrap up until legislative leaders agree to how much will be available for each committee. There are no transportation committee meetings planned.
The House is expected to vote on a public works funding bill Thursday, but there are questions whether it will garner enough votes to pass.
While the Legislature can meet through Monday, the state Constitution requires all bills to pass by Sunday midnight. Lawmakers have been told to expect to work through the weekend.
While the major issues remain undone, legislators are passing dozens of bills a day dealing with lesser issues.

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