Minnesota’s bonding bill includes more than $11 million for ‘response to civil unrest’ 

The bill passed the House in a vote of 100-34, and cleared the Republican-controlled Senate in a vote of 64-3.

Members of the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus hold a press conference. (Senate Republican Caucus/Facebook)

The $1.9 billion bonding bill passed last week by the Minnesota Legislature includes upwards of $11 million for “costs incurred” during May’s Minneapolis riots.

The bill appropriates more than $5 million from the trunk highway fund and $3.5 million from the general fund to the Department of Public Safety “for costs incurred related to the response to civil unrest in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.”

Another $2.1 million was appropriated from the general fund to the Department of Natural Resources for its “response to civil unrest.”

A final line item includes $865,000 for the Department of Transportation for “civil unrest” expenses. Together, the four items total $11,630,000

During a House floor debate, Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, called the phrase “civil unrest” an “oxymoron,” and introduced an amendment to change the language from “civil unrest” to “criminal property destruction and riots.”

“What we witnessed in Minneapolis earlier this year was not civil,” he said.

The bill passed the House in a vote of 100-34, and cleared the Republican-controlled Senate in a vote of 64-3. Republicans previously said they wouldn’t pass a bonding bill until Gov. Tim Walz relinquished his emergency powers.

Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, responded to criticism of the bill during Thursday’s Senate floor session.

“They’re calling this a Jacob Frey bailout bill. Jacob Frey is not getting any money, personally or as a city. I think if you asked the Minneapolis contingency, they wish they would’ve got some to handle those challenges,” he said. “This is a bill about statewide, regional infrastructure. The money that’s going to deal with the costs of all the challenges and the riots — it’s going to state agencies to pay for the troopers’ overtime.”

In a press release, Senate Republicans said the bill “does not provide funds to rebuild businesses that were damaged,” but reimburses law enforcement agencies for “their work in quelling the riots.” It also includes pay raises for the Minnesota State Patrol.

“After a summer of rioting and COVID concerns, the State Troopers that have protected the state are certainly deserving of a pay raise, and it’s only right that we reimburse the law enforcement partners that walked into a volatile situation this summer, a situation that could have been prevented had the governor acted more decisively,” said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

“This bonding bill is a smart investment that will create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver improvements to local projects throughout Minnesota, and make our state a better place to live,” Walz said in a statement. “It’s been a long journey. By finally coming together and working across the aisle, Minnesota proved once again that if Washington won’t lead — we will.”