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ST. PAUL –Early this morning the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a Disaster Relief Bill (HF1 – Special Session) with bipartisan support to secure $157.2 million in flood relief funding for southeastern Minnesota.
"This bill gives relief to the hard-working Minnesota residents who have had their lives torn apart by the devastating flood in August," said Representative Carlos Mariani. "This is one of the worst disasters for people to recover from because too often the recovery process is impeded by the lack of insurance. Today, legislative leaders took an important step to meet the recovery needs of southeastern Minnesota."
The relief package provides a great deal of flexibility that will allow state agencies to expedite funds to local governments and individuals. The relief plan appropriates a combination of cash, trunk highway and general obligation bonding to remove debris, rebuild infrastructure, provide temporary and permanent housing, repair state trunk highways and bridges, and restore schools and businesses.
In addition, the bill includes provisions to release federal funds for I-35W bridge collapse recovery efforts, fire relief for Cook County after the Ham Lake fire earlier this year, and flood relief for the communities of Crookston and Browns Valley.
Mariani expressed disappointment that other issues critical to St. Paul residents such as property tax relief, a comprehensive transportation bill and local government aid, would have to wait until the Legislative Session in 2008. "This special session was all about extending resources needed to the citizens in southeastern Minnesota rebuild their communities; but we should also be concerned about St. Paul's ability to keep a strong community."