A petition from two key Minnesota GOP lawmakers today to order work to resume on many of the state's shuttered road projects was rejected by the judge appointed to rule on essential government services.
Minnesota House transportation committee chairman Mike Beard and Senate transportation committee chairman Joe Gimse told Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin that spending state money during the shutdown for upkeep and rebuilding of roads fits within her order of keeping critical core functions operating during a government shutdown.
"They are subject to erosion, to wear and tear and to damage as they stand at this moment, particularly vulnerable because the projects are not completed and the drainage and weather protection is not intact," Gimse said, "To allow that to continue impinges on the public safety and that's the argument we'd make."
Gearin told the lawmakers her order allows for emergency repair and inspection of roads and bridges during the shutdown. She said it is not the role of the court to be the transportation commissioner. Gearin took the request under advisement but said it is the responsibility of the Legislature and the governor to agree on a budget that will allow government spending to resume.
"The contract can't be fulfilled by the government because of the failure to reach a resolution on the budget issue because they haven't funded the other costs of this project and the contract can't go forward without that happening," Gearin said.