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Public works projects stayed in play

ST. PAUL - Senate Democrats unveiled a second public works funding bill late Monday with less than three hours remaining in the legislative session.

Sen. Keith Langseth's bill was nearly identical to the first bill, a $334 million plan Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed.

The second bill included $37 million for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center addition project and another $30 million for an Iron Range steel plant, as well as things such as university and college repair work.

Langseth, a Glyndon DFLer who leads a committee funding public works projects, said Pawlenty would probably eliminate a few items from the package if it passed. While the Senate could pass the bill, it was not clear if there was time for the House to take it up.

"I don't think he's going to veto much," Langseth said, claiming Pawlenty promised more than $200 million in projects before the session started.

At a news conference before Langseth's bill was unveiled, Pawlenty said he had no agreement with top lawmakers on a last-minute bonding bill.

"I have a guess what they're going to do," Pawlenty said. "They'll probably repackage the old one."

The governor said the theme of his initial $71 million bonding proposal was "emergency" projects.