A Republican state representative drew boos from colleagues during a floor debate Tuesday night with a remark that a rail line connecting north Minneapolis to the state prison in St. Cloud would be "convenient."

During an hours-long and often contentious debate on the House GOP-drafted transportation budget, Democrats unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to include funding for a study on the feasibility extending the Minneapolis-to-Big Lake Northstar Commuter Rail line on to St. Cloud.

Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, noted that the proposed route would take Northstar right past the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.

"Boy, wouldn't that be convenient to have that rail line going from the prison to north Minneapolis?" Newberger said. Scattered boos could be heard in the House chamber.

Newberger quickly backtracked. "I'm not casting any aspersions on north Minneapolis," he said. "I know some folks got their ire up, and rightfully so. Sometimes as we're speaking - that's what came into my mind.

"If I offended anyone from north Minneapolis, I apologize," Newberger said.