Republicans generally mild about a bonding bill

By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter

Area Republican lawmakers strike a tentative tone in talking about a bonding bill.

Republicans cite last year’s $535 million bonding bill — legislation  passed in a traditionally non-bonding year — as something to be weighed when contemplating the scope and size of a new bonding bill.

Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, who serves on the Senate Capital Investment Committee, is keeping that in mind, he said.

Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, expects a $500 million bonding bill to eventually be passed by lawmakers.

He said the Chatfield Center for the Arts, National Trout Learning Center in Preston, and Potter Center for the Arts as fit bonding projects coming from his district.

“Yes, they’re worldwide,” he said of their visibility.

Rep, Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said before House Republicans talk about a bonding bill Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton should show a willingness to sign-off on their top reform items.

One of these items is Photo ID for voting, she noted.

First, sign-off on these items, Scott urged the governor.

“And we’ll talk later,” she said.

Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, favors having a basic bonding bill.

Abeler is pursuing bonding dollars for the Anoka Dam in downtown Anoka to make the dam into a stouter fish barrier.

Department of Natural Resources officials do not currently consider the dam on the Rum River a good fish barrier and believe Asian carp can get around it to threaten Lake Mille Lacs upstream.

Abeler mentions a pedestrian walkway across the dam as part of the dam proposal.

He expects project costs to be covered by multiple funding sources, not just the bonding bill, he said.

Dayton’s $775 million bonding bill found disfavor with some Republicans.

“It doesn’t sound right to me,” said Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, of the price tag.

“I’m not interested in pushing a bonding bill,” he said.

Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, indicated she thought Dayton’s proposed bonding bill was too big.

A more appropriately sized bonding bill would be between $200 million and $300 million, Erickson suggested.

Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Shafer, will judge the bonding bill less by its overall cost than quality of the projects in it, he said.

Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, doesn’t favor having any bonding bill.

“I don’t think we need to go to bonding,” said Dettmer.

“As far as I’m concerned, we can go home early (from session),” he said.

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, gave a quick answer to a question about having a bonding bill.

“The smaller the better,” he said, speaking out against perceived pork barrel spending.

Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Apple Valley, believes the best way to deal with bonding is to defuse the high stakes politics.

Break the bonding bill into smaller sections and sequentially vote on them, he suggested.

As for more speculative projects, they should be placed into a single bill and see what survives, he said.