Bonding bill for flood grants moves forward

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Bond authorization for $28 million in flood mitigation grants for publicly owned capital improvements to prevent or alleviate flood damage is included in a bill approved by the House Capital Investment Committee.

The bill would also provide:

  • $17 million to renovate the Coon Rapids Dam to serve as a barrier to invasive species;
  • $3.4 million for renovations to Department of Human Services offices;
  • $3 million for a Southeastern Minnesota Regional Public Safety Training Center; and
  • $125,000 for preparation and site development to reuse the Ah Gwah Ching Regional Treatment Center;

Sponsored by Committee Chairman Larry Howes (R-Walker), HF959 next goes to the House Ways and Means Committee. The companion, SF664, sponsored by Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester), awaits action by the Senate Capital Investment Committee.

The bill also provides for cancellation or reductions of several projects that had been bonded for in previous years, but where planning or construction has yet to begin.

Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to include $10 million for the Board of Water and Soil Resources to acquire conservation easements from land owners to restore wetlands, for flood prevention.

Although supportive of the proposal, Howes said he doesn’t want to expand the cost of the bill.

“I hope and pray there is a bonding bill that follows this,” he said.

But Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), the DFL lead, isn’t optimistic. “I am less and less confident of that. … After the money in this bill, there would be only an additional $4 million in remaining bonding available,” according to the House Ways and Means Committee.