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The House and Senate Omnibus Transportation Finance & Policy Bills are Moving

We truly appreciate that the Legislature has recognized that the time is now for a historic investment in biking, walking, and transit and for including the policy provisions in Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act (thanks to chief authors Representative Elkins and Senator Morrison) that we testified in support of in February. 

I testified again in support of these provisions now in the gigantic omnibus bills (the Senate bill is 155 pages long) on Friday, March 31st (see my 2 minutes of testimony here). Thanks to transportation committee Chair, Senator Scott Dibble, Senate File 3157 has almost all of what BikeMN is looking for. On Monday the transportation committee amended the bill again to include the e-bike tax credit and a study to extend the Midtown Greenway to be completed by the Metropolitan Council (see testimony from the Sierra Club here). The House bill is not as complete, but Chair Hornstein has assured us that he supports including all the provisions in the Bill Dooley Bicycle Safety Act (Article 7 – Line 108.8 – 116.7 in the Senate bill) and the e-bike tax credit when the bills get merged in the conference committee. 

All the members of the Transportation Forward Coalition, including BikeMN, are supportive of the Metro sales tax for transit, biking, and walking included in both the House and Senate (on Line 44.4 in the Senate bill) Omnibus bills, but are concerned that the active transportation portion is not dedicated. Testimony from many Coalition members highlighted this.

As an example of the demand for active transportation funds, I noted during my testimony that the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided the Metropolitan Council with an additional $150 million for their two-year regional solicitation for Transportation Alternatives projects. They were able to spend it in one funding cycle and still only fund high-priority projects in 55 communities.

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet for Senate File 3157. Rows 47 – 54 show the active transportation and safe routes to school appropriations. 

I specifically mentioned a couple of the many other things that the bills do that BikeMN supports:

  • Increases for transit and passenger rail (lots of places in the bills)
  • Speed cameras (Line 152.7 in the Senate bill)
  • Safe Road Zones (Line 128.1 in the Senate bill)
  • The Advisory Council on Traffic Safety (Line 117.19 in the Senate bill)

There are lots of other things in the House and Senate bills that you may support. Please visit our Facebook post on this subject and share your thoughts. And, stay tuned, we’ll provide an update on the trail appropriations in the omnibus environment policy and finance bills in the next E-Newsletter.

Dorian Grilley, Executive Director