Kiel one of 19 Republicans to vote in favor

    In the wee hours of Friday morning, the Minnesota House, easily exceeding the 3/5 majority vote required, approved a bonding bill with more than $1 billion in projects that includes $10 million to go toward the construction of a Wellness Center on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus.   

    District 1B State Rep. Deb Kiel’s office confirmed as much in an email shortly after 3 a.m. Friday. The Crookston Republican was one of 19 Republicans to vote with the Democratic majority in passing the bill.   

    “The University of Minnesota Crookston is a world class institute. Investing in a new, state-of-the-art wellness center will not only add to what the university has to offer, but it will also promote healthy living in the student body,” Kiel said. “Advocates for the wellness center made their presence known at the State Capitol this year. Students’ school spirit and commitment to making UMC an even greater campus pushed this project into the limelight.”   

    The bill borrows $846 million and spends $200 million in cash from the state surplus.   

    The Minnesota Senate, which also included $10 million for the Wellness Center in its bill, is expected to vote on the bill Friday. The final step would be Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature. His office sent a “must-have” list of items to the legislature during the final negotiations, with Dayton threatening to veto the bonding bill if he didn’t get the items on the list. He got most, according to an Associated Press story, but not everything on the list.   

    A major sticking point in the negotiations was funding for a Lewis and Clark water project in southern Minnesota. Republicans wanted more funding for the project, saying other things in the bill weren’t as worthy of funding. In the end, the House bill includes the original $22 million for the water project, but cities and counties in the area of the project will receive some state aid and will have the authority to raise taxes to help cover the cost.