2023 is likely to be a great year for biking and walking in Minnesota. To ensure it is the best it can be we need BikeMN supporters to do at least one, preferably all, of the following: 1. Attend the MN Bike Walk Summit on Capitol Hill on February 9th or join us virtually; 2. Meet with your legislators when they have a meeting in the district and ask them to support BikeMN’s legislative agenda; and/or, 3. Contact your legislators via email or phone or share constructive comments and suggestions on social media.
The transportation committee chairs, Representative Frank Hornstein and Senator Scott Dibble are both planning robust transportation bills that will include biking, walking, and transit that will be merged in a conference committee and sent on to Governor Walz for signature. You may recall that there was no agreement on a lot of spending bills in 2022, including transportation even though there was a big budget surplus. That created an unprecedented scenario that left the allocation of the biggest budget surplus in Minnesota history to the party that won the majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate in the November 2022 election. And, as you probably know, the DFL, somewhat unexpectedly, won the majority in both the House and Senate and the power to set the agenda.
BikeMN will have a multi-pronged approach. We will be the lead on a few bills and partnering with other organizations to support others. Many of our issues will be included in the Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act – an omnibus bill that will include both policy and funding allocations. Bill was the longtime chair of the BikeMN Advocacy Committee and a stellar biking, walking, and transit advocate for the past few decades. Check our Legislative Agenda page for updates. The actual bill should be posted soon. The operation of a bicycle policy and mandatory active transportation safety education in schools (bus safety is required but biking and walking is not) language in the omnibus bill will also be introduced as separate bills. The former with the goal of an early win (this is the bill that passed the House 122-0 a few years ago) and the latter because it will need to be heard in the education committee in addition to transportation. Our final stand-alone bill will be $10 million (or more) in funding for e-bike charging infrastructure and a rebate program
Many thanks to Representative Steve Elkins (DFL – Bloomington) for working with us in November and December and agreeing to be the chief author of the omnibus, education, and e-bike bills. Representative Leon Lillie (DFL – North St. Paul) will again be the chief author of the policy bill which is the same as House File 1908 from 2022. Final thank yous go to former state representative Connie Bernardy (DFL – Fridley) for being the author of the omnibus bill in 2022 and many other bills in previous years. We will miss her as our champion at the Capitol but look forward to continuing to support her work with the Active Living Ramsey Communities Program. Keep checking our Legislative Agenda page for updates including the addition of other authors (including your legislators!).
BikeMN will also be working with the Minnesota Safety Council in support of an omnibus traffic safety bill that includes a pilot program for using speed cameras. We will also be working with the Transportation Forward Coalition in support of funding for transit, biking, and walking in both the Metro Area and Greater Minnesota. We will likely also support the Parks & Trails Council’s trail funding requests and various bonding bills for Safe Routes to School and other active transportation infrastructure proposals. There will also be an omnibus climate bill that will likely include significant funding for biking and walking.
Your task, as a supporter of BikeMN, will be to encourage your legislators to support these bills and even be co-authors. You can find who represents you here.
Hope to see you on February 9th.