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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Speaker Daudt Blindsides Transportation Omnibus and Takes Out Met Council Oversight

Yesterday on 5/9/2017, in the dark of night at 10pm, the ten legislative members of the House and Senate Transportation Conference committee came together and made more adjustments to the Transportation omnibus bill. The meeting was scheduled for the morning and than moved later and later into the night. This $5.8 Billion dollar bill has a lot of needed funding for roads; but it's growing worse and worse with each meeting. Our last post covered this: GOP Caves on Mass Transit, Offers Dayton Dream Budget for the Met Council to Continue Transit Lines

As the title states, the GOP is not only funding the Met Council a raise to a total two year budget of $210.8 million, they are no longer taking away their power to keep bypassing the legislature regarding mass transit corridors. Before this action the meeting was going as planned. The committee members were rubber stamping small changes to the Bill passing "A17-0443.pdf" unanimously. They also approved unanimously the "DE amendment as amended". These amendments included things like the requirement for the Met Council to do a vibration study for the South West Light Rail (section 151). They also added that the Governor can appoint 1 member to the Met Council. There appears to be more items to work through before the house and senate versions fully match according to this DE document.

The meeting took a turn for the worse when Senator Newman introduced a request to approve an oral amendment to remove sections 125, 128, and 138 from the omnibus bill, starting on p.111. These measures were Representative Runbeck's and Senator Osmek's bill HF418/SF150 that was later included into the omnibus bill under these sections. The proposal was a requirement that no light rail corridor can be "studied, planned, designed, or constructed unless the legislature has explicitly authorized the particular project." This common sense measure would have returned the power to build these multi billion dollar white elephant transit corridors back to the State tax payers who fund them (with their elected legislators). 

The vote appeared to only take representative Runbeck and Senator Osmek by surprise. They were the only two no votes. Runbeck said in the meeting she spoke to the Transportation Commission Chair Representative Torkelson on the House floor earlier in the day and he stated to her the plan was to keep the measures in place. She asked for clarification and the room was silent as she and Osmek appeared to realize they were intentionally left out of the discussion. When it came time for representative Koznick to vote he "passed" and after the rest of the yes votes were counted he too sold out his principles to Speaker Kurt Daudt's selfish political ambitions and voted yes with the others. The reason the vote was put on the agenda was because House Speaker Kurt Daudt had it arranged according to one of the legislators on the committee. It is also the only explanation as most of the legislators on this 10 member conference committee were co-authors on the now removed bill to reign in the Met Council power.

Last month Speaker Daudt emailed me "Matt, Your posts are full of shit and you know it.  Is that clear enough for you?" in response to my article documenting the lack of leadership from Daudt to take a stand against mass transit: Four GOP Legislators are Silent After Attempt to Sneak Funding for Mass Transit in Omnibus Bill I had reminded him the party would be doomed in the 2018 election if the party can't get something as simple as to stop expanding failed mass transit.

No one is sure yet if Speaker Daudt will put his name in the running for Governor; if he is, I wonder what party he will run under. With his 9% budget increase offer to Dayton's 11% budget increase proposal and the pork filled Bonding bill, there's not a fiscal conservative I know of who's impressed with Daudt's leadership.