Safe & Sustainable Transportation

Driver’s Licenses for All

The Legislature improved public safety and expanded access to driver training and insurance coverage by returning to Minnesota’s pre-2003 law that allowed any Minnesotan, regardless of their citizenship status, to obtain a driver’s license or identification card. This was supported by many law enforcement officials and organizations as well as many business and labor groups, which understand the roadway safety and economic benefits that occur when people who are already working and contributing to Minnesota’s economy can drive legally and safely. This policy enables undocumented Minnesotans to reliably transport themselves and their families to their jobs, schools, errands, activities, and more without fear of their lives and families being destroyed by a routine traffic stop, allowing them to participate in our society with the dignity they deserve. It does not apply to enhanced or REAL ID licenses and identification cards, which are governed by federal regulations.

Generational Investment in Transportation

The Legislature addressed the massive financial need across Minnesota’s transportation system, exemplified by our poor road conditions and a transit system facing major rider safety issues   and serious problems with ongoing projects, with a transformative investment in the systems      that connect Minnesotans to each other, to their work, to healthcare, and to everything else   that defines a mobile and fulfilled life. Along with its provision of necessary operations funding        to the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety, and the Metropolitan       Council from existing state funds, the Transportation budget provides $1.5 billion in new                     transportation-dedicated funding across the next two years, a figure that will increase slightly             throughout the next decade. Notable provisions and appropriations include:

New Revenue for Sustainable, Long-Term Investments

The Transportation bill provides new dedicated funding for transportation and transit well into the future by:

  • Indexing the gas tax to inflation
  • Increasing the motor vehicle registration tax and the motor vehicle sales tax
  • Dedicating 100 percent of auto parts sales tax revenue for transportation sources by 2033
  • Establishing a metro-area sales tax of 0.75 percent
  • Establishing a 50-cent delivery fee on retail deliveries that contain $100 or more of eligible goods (excluding baby products, drugs and medical devices, groceries, and prepared food)
  • Creating blackout special license plates that will consist of an all-black background with white text

Statewide Investments

The Transportation bill appropriates $598.59 million in Trunk Highway Bonds, which can only be used for capital projects on the trunk highway system, defined as interstates, U.S. highways, and state highways under Department of Transportation jurisdiction. This includes $153 million for the Corridors of Commerce program, $200 million for construction, reconstruction, and improvement of trunk highways, $87.44 million for capital improvements to Department of Transportation facilities, and over $150 million for specific local highway improvement projects across the state.

Captures Federal Dollars

The Transportation bill positions Minnesota to maximize our share of federal infrastructure funding by appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in the state and local match funds that are required to secure federal dollars, including Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds, and providing for technical assistance from the Department of Transportation to Tribal and local units of government that seek to submit applications for federal transportation-related grants.

Other Major Items Passed

  • Establishes a Federal Funds Coordinator within the Department of Management and Budget who will be tasked with maximizing federal formula and discretionary grant funds to recipients in Minnesota, including funds under the IIJA and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.
  • Funds partnerships between the University of Minnesota and small communities across the state for infrastructure project analysis and development. The involved University entities, including the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and the Center for Transportation Studies, will use their expertise to support smaller Minnesota communities in their pursuit of federal transportation and infrastructure project funding.
  • Appropriates $194.7 million for the Minneapolis-to-Duluth Northern Lights Express passenger rail project. This appropriation includes the 20 percent state match required to secure federal funds to cover the other 80 percent of the total project cost.
  • Appropriates $50 million for the Blue Line light rail transit extension project that will extend the existing Blue Line from Target Field Station northwest to Brooklyn Park.
  • Improves roadway safety through several provisions that include expanding Minnesota’s existing move over law and providing for the establishment of safe road zones.
  • Improves railroad safety through several provisions that increase railroad emergency response training and planning and establish minimum crew size requirements.
  • Improves Metro Transit rider safety through several provisions that increase security measures and provide for personnel to enforce rules and connect riders to social services.
  • Implements environmentally-conscious transportation policy through several provisions that require environmental assessments and planning, provide resources for electric vehicle adoption, and support active transportation statewide, among others.
  • Authorizes the Department of Transportation to establish a statewide Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program for the purpose of implementing the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, and to enter into agreements with private and public entities to finance, design, construct, operate, or maintain electric vehicle infrastructure in Minnesota. The NEVI Program provides federal funds to states to invest in electric vehicle fast charging stations. Minnesota will receive $68 million for the federal fiscal years 2022-26 under NEVI, with a 20 percent ($17 million) non-federal match requirement.
  • Establishes a Metropolitan Governance Task Force to study and evaluate options to reform and reconstitute governance of the Metropolitan Council. Requires this task force to examine a range of possible options, including direct election of members, a combination of directly elected and appointed members, and replacing the Council with a council of governments. This is intended to ultimately achieve more transparency and accountability for the Metropolitan Council, an unelected body that holds extensive power and responsibility and which many legislators have long wanted to reform.
  • Includes several recommendations from the 2022 Independent Expert Review of Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) and deputy registrars (DRs). These recommendations address DVS/DR staffing and funding issues and were developed by a bipartisan working group.
  • Authorizes licensed driver’s education programs to provide their clients with both teleconference and online driver’s education, establishing additional options to supplement existing in-person course offerings and increasing program accessibility for students who have inflexible schedules or live in rural areas.
  • Exempts veterans with a 100 percent total and permanent service-connected disability rating from several taxes and fees related to driver’s licenses and ID cards as well as various transportation-related taxes.
  • Establishes a restricted disabled relative driver’s license for 15-year-olds who are, except for their age, qualified to hold a driver’s license, and have a grandparent, parent, sibling, or legal guardian who has a disability that makes it difficult to drive or who does not have a driver’s license due to a disability.
  • Establishes a reintegration driver’s license, a temporary license available at no cost to people recently released from incarceration who are at least 18 years old and were incarcerated for more than 180 consecutive days. It will not be available to people who have a history of dangerous driving or have been judged mentally or physically incompetent to drive safely.
  • Requires the Department of Public Safety to establish two new full-service deputy registrar offices: one at the North Minneapolis Service Center, where an existing office provides driver’s license and other document services, and one at or in the vicinity of the Hmong Village Shopping Center in St. Paul, where no office currently exists. Deputy registrars provide driver’s license services, register and title motor vehicles and watercraft, register snowmobiles and ATVs, and collect related taxes and fees.
  • Allows Minnesota taxpayers to apply to the Department of Revenue for a rebate for the cost of an electric-assisted bicycle equal to the lesser of $1,500 or 75 percent of the cost (the 75 percent figure is reduced by one percentage point, down to a minimum of 50 percent, for every $4,000 of the purchaser’s adjusted gross income above $50,000 for a married taxpayer filing a joint return and above $25,000 for all other filers). Caps the state’s total credit amount at $2 million in each of 2024 and 2025 and establishes that the Department of Revenue cannot award any credits after June 30, 2026.
  • Establishes a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) tax credit of $1.50 per gallon of SAF that is produced or blended and sold in Minnesota to a purchaser who certifies that it will be used in an aircraft departing from an airport in Minnesota.
Senate DFL Media