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Walz hails bipartisan cooperation as he signs his 1st bills

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed his first two bills Tuesday — one that pays for fixes to the balky state vehicle registration system and one that provides $102 million for public construction projects statewide.

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 3:25 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed his first two bills Tuesday — one that pays for fixes to the balky state vehicle registration system and one that provides $102 million for public construction projects statewide.

The Democratic governor said at the signing ceremony that the bipartisan support for the bills represented the "hard work of governance." He paid tribute to lawmakers from both parties who helped reach the compromises. And he called the effort "a real run, but one with some training wheels on it" for how they could reach deals to end the legislative session by the May 20 deadline.

"We came to a compromise in the best interest of Minnesota taxpayers and Minnesota citizens," Walz said. "We compromised and provided services across the breadth of the state, and we did so in a manner that's befitting to bipartisan common decency."

The bills marked the first "early wins" of the session, a goal set by the governor and legislative leaders of passing less-contentious legislation early to smooth the way for compromises later on over more difficult issues such as taxes and spending. The hope is for better working relationships among the new governor, the new House Democratic majority and Republicans who control the Senate. That would contrast the rancor that marred relations between the Republican legislative majorities and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in the 2017 and 2018 sessions.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the bills Walz signed show that the only Legislature in the United States at the moment where different parties control the House and Senate can function well.

The vehicle registration bill contains $13.3 million, including $5.7 million to keep contractors at work on fixing the MNLARS system, which has been a headache for vehicle buyers, sellers and owners since it went live in 2017. Separate legislation is advancing to provide about $10 million to the deputy registrars around the state that issue license plates and tabs and transfer vehicle titles, who've had to absorb the costs of trying to make the system work.

The $102.3 million public works borrowing bill will fund environmental and infrastructure projects around the state. It includes money to begin the cleanup of a landfill in Andover that's leaking hazardous chemicals. It also makes technical changes to fix flawed bill language from the 2018 session that has held up the expansions of U.S. Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center in southeastern Minnesota and Minnesota Highway 23 from New London to Paynesville in west-central Minnesota.

Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman called the borrowing bill a "correction" to action taken in the final hours last session.

Republicans who then controlled both chambers decided to finance the projects with money from an environmental trust fund that uses state lottery proceeds. The projects normally have been part of the main "bonding bill" of the session, which is financed through the state's general fund, but tapping the trust fund held down the price tag on the bigger bonding bill.

Several environmental and conservation groups sued, saying the maneuver amounted to an illegal raid on a trust fund that's not supposed to be used that way. The lawsuit held up the affected projects. Now that the projects will be funded the normal way, legislative leaders expect the case will be resolved.

"It was really an error that those important projects were put in jeopardy by being funded through ... a source that was never intended to be a source for bonding," Hortman said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
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