Special session called for disaster relief


Gov. Mark Dayton has called a special session of the Legislature for 2 p.m. Aug. 24 to consider a $167 million funding package to help residents and communities in parts Minnesota severely affected by June 14-18 wind storms and flooding.

After weeks of negotiations, the governor and legislative leaders agreed to the package, and also that the special session last no longer than one legislative day and it consider only a Disaster Relief Appropriation bill, and another bill allowing for technical corrections to be made, if needed.

The bill has not yet been drafted, but once agreed to by the governor and leadership, no amendments would be accepted or voted on by the bodies.

“I’m glad this part is over, and the parameters are established,” Dayton said at a press briefing.

Money will come from the budget reserve and the surplus remaining from the previous budget year, he said. Additional funds will be allocated through the Trunk Highway Fund resulting from the cancellation of some proposed projects. Dayton said that any unspent money from the appropriation would be returned to the General Fund.

President Obama declared 15 counties and three tribal lands a major disaster. With such a declaration, the federal government pays 75 percent of costs to help fix public infrastructure and requires a 25 percent match. Approximately $25 million from the bill is targeted for the match.

Some help would be available to individuals who experienced damage to their homes. Dayton said approximately $13 million would be available for low-interest loans and temporary housing costs. However, most of the funding will address infrastructure repairs.

Prior to the special session, the House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Friday in room 200 of the State Office Building to discuss the plan.