The end-of-session sleep deprivation had hit both lawmakers and advocates alike by the time the Senate passed the bonding bill off the floor of the Senate late Monday night (May 7th). Housing advocates had been at the Capital all day while the last two big bills, the bonding bill and the Vikings’ stadium bill, made their way through the legislature. The House took three hours to debate the bonding bill, anticipating a lengthy discussion over the Vikings’ stadium. Capital Investment Chair, Rep. Howes, even referred to the bonding bill debate as a pre-game show.
The Senate continued their debate of the bill bonding late into the night. We can only guess that they were holding out the debate until they knew the fate of the Vikings stadium in the House. As the thick wooden doors slid open into the Senate Chamber and the sound of cheering for the passage of the Vikings’ stadium bill roared into the room, lawmakers quickly switched from debating amendments to voting on the final bonding bill. There were still a tense few minutes during the vote when many lawmakers held out their vote and watched their colleagues. It looked like lawmakers were engaged in some sort of showdown over the vote. Once one reluctant lawmaker voted for the bill, the rest followed and the 2/3 votes needed to pass the bill were quickly recorded on the voting board.
As that night drew to a close, lawmakers and advocates were still unsure whether the bonding bill would go to a conference committee or if the House would choose to concur (agree with and re-pass) the version of the bonding bill that passed the Senate – but that’s what happened on Tuesday afternoon. Now the bill is on its way to the Governor for his signature. What passed:
The final bonding bill is HF1752. This bill includes $30 million in housing infrastructure bonds. These bonds may be used for foreclosure recovery including land trusts and rental, supportive housing, and the preservation, acquisition and rehabilitation of federally subsidized affordable housing. The bill also includes $5.5 million for public housing rehab funds. In addition, the bill provides $2 million in funding for the Harriet Tubman Center’s housing for battered women, making the grand total for housing this session $37.5 million.
Many thanks are due to everyone who has lent their time, energy and expertise to this effort. Many, many important needs have gone unfunded this bonding round. It has only been through your commitment and hard work that housing has been able to stand out to lawmakers as an area that warranted a substantial state investment in these difficult times. Rep. Alice Hausman even called out housing advocates and your work this session during yesterday’s House floor session – watch it here – she says “like no other group, housing advocates have been here every single day…”
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has contributed to this effort!