Sen. Hoffman has been a leader in funding smart, cost-effective transportation projects. Among his many achievements as a state senator has been to secure funding for the expansion of Hwy. 610. In 2013, our region received an incredible $80 million from the newly formed Corridors of Commerce program to begin extensive road construction on Highway 610. These investments are vitally important to our corner of the metro, making us more attractive to new businesses which bring good paying jobs and add to our tax base. The new highway corridor will support continued economic growth and job creation in the northwest Twin Cities suburbs. The 2.5-mile extension will open to traffic in late 2016.
Sen. Hoffman’s steadfast support for the expansion of Hwy. 610 has also paved the way for local business growth:
- The state recently completed a three-mile stretch of improvements on Hwy 610 between Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove that included three overpasses, noise walls and a pedestrian bridge. Gov. Mark Dayton recently announced plans to complete a connection on Hwy. 610 between Interstate 94 and County Rd. 81. The road improvements are among the drivers for a flurry of new construction in the area.
- Olympus spokeswoman Laura Steele called the expansion project, “A No. 1 factor is convenience for our existing employees.”
- Target Corporation significantly expanded its Brooklyn Park offices, and Sen. Hoffman’s support of the expansion of Hwy. 610 helped facilitate this expansion.
Transportation Funding Votes
Sen. Hoffman voted against H.F. 1444 (p. 3570) in 2013, third reading, The Omnibus Transportation and Public Safety bill, which contained numerous tax increases. These tax increases include a 5 cent gas tax increase which was projected to raise millions in new revenue, increasing the motor vehicle sales tax, adding ¾ cent to the five county transit sales tax, and allowing all counties to implement a wheelage tax.
He also voted against a similar bill, H.F. 4 (p. 2912) in 2015. This bill also included the gross receipts tax (about a 16 cent a gallon increase at $2.50/gallon), a ¾ cent increase in the seven county metro transit sales tax, increases in tab fees and vehicle registration taxes, and this bill included the “Driver’s License For All” provision mentioned above.
- Hoffman protected all Minnesotans and our business community against an unnecessary gas tax and registration fee increases. This additional cost will be passed on to consumers and impact those who earn the least, the hardest.
- This tax could have costed Minnesota taxpayers almost $2 billion a year, and this was supported by the DFL despite a $900 million surplus.
- Hoffman saved his community from seeing a gas tax increase of 50% compared to what the working families of Minnesota pay today.
2014 Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bill
This was the omnibus supplemental bill in 2014, >H.F. 3172 (p. 10395). There was a $13 million target agreed upon. The transportation article included $6.5 million for Greater Minnesota Transit, increased rail inspectors, rail grade crossing safety improvement funds, increases in MnDOT efficiencies, oil and hazardous materials safety improvements, and others.
- Hoffman voted to increase safety along rail lines that transport oil and hazardous material by authorizing additional railroad track and vehicle inspectors, adding safety requirements, safety trainings, and sharing emergency management preparedness plans with emergency response agencies.
- In addition to safety provisions, this bill requires MnDOT to increase efficiencies by at least 5%.
Sen. Hoffman voted for both REAL ID bills in the session. The first bill, S.F. 1646 (p. 5330) allowed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to report back to the legislature about what needed to be done to implement the federal driver’s license and ID requirements. The second bill, S.F. 3589 (p.7011), would have allowed DPS to begin to implement REAL ID standards. However, this bill failed in conference committee as the House and Senate could not agree on bill language. The bill negotiations stalled on a single provision. The House GOP was worried the second tier, Minnesota driving-only license, would allow DPS to use its rulemaking authority to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. However, DPS currently has this authority and undocumented immigrants do not have driver’s licenses.
The next deadline for REAL ID is not until 2018. So, Minnesotans still have time to come into compliance.
- Hoffman voted in support of a balanced solution allowing those who want to fly the option of getting a REAL ID-compliant license or ID and continue to board airplanes as normal, but also allowed for those worried about personal privacy to obtain a driving-only license.
- Hoffman supported a commonsense solution that would have brought Minnesota into compliance with REAL ID standards at a minimal public cost while also allowing for the privacy of concerned individuals.