Transportation in the 2016 Session: What Happened and What’s Next

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By Andrea Kiepe, Organizer

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TLC’s Advocacy Director, Dave Van Hattum, speaks at a post-session press conference with other transportation funding advocates.

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Despite leaders from both parties saying that it was a top priority to pass a transportation bill, the 2016 legislative session ended without one. Here’s what you need to know going forward if you care about long-term, dedicated funding for a truly comprehensive transportation system in Minnesota.

House Senate Transportation Conference CommitteeThe transportation conference committee’s bipartisan negotiators came very close to finding a compromise. Though not our ideal, the offers that were exchanged would make significant progress on funding all modes (bus, rail, bicycle, walking, roads, bridges) statewide.

The offers included strong funding for transit (in greater Minnesota and the metro, including Southwest LRT, future LRT lines, and expanded regular route bus service), and more agreement about sources of road and bridge funding, but the Senate still led the way on funding for safer walking and bicycling. This moment of compromise fizzled at the end of session, but could it be the way to Get Transportation Done?

It could be if Governor Dayton calls for a special session. Transportation has been a top priority at the legislature for two years running and Governor Dayton’s own proposals include funding for all modes statewide. Voices from across the state, including individuals like you, business leaders, chambers of commerce, and city and county officials, all have been calling for action—to keep Minnesota competitive, to ensure safety, to improve access to opportunity, to give people better options, to save costs over the long term.

Governor Dayton is the only one who can call a special session. He can use the leverage this gives him by making it a condition that the legislature pass long-term, dedicated transportation funding for all modes, statewide. We know that all legislators are up for re-election. This is a great opportunity to ensure that a good deal is negotiated, struck, and quickly passed in a brief special session. This is the best way forward after the chaotic end to the session.