ST. PAUL, MN – Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Monday for a one-day special session addressing damage caused by recent flooding in southeastern Minnesota. State Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL – Coon Rapids), state Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL – Champlin), and state Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL – Brooklyn Park) voted for emergency legislation (HF1) delivering needed aid to flood-damaged communities in 21 Minnesota counties.
“The state has a responsibility to respond quickly in times of crisis," said Rep. Newton. “That’s exactly what we did. The bill we passed today delivers needed relief to help our friends and neighbors recover during this time of emergency. This is state government at its best.”
Recent flooding damaged more than 700 homes and businesses in southeastern Minnesota, as well as hundreds of roads and bridges. Public schools, wastewater treatment plants, community centers and other important infrastructure also incurred serious damage. Legislation passed today will cover 25 percent of those damages, with federal funds addressing the remaining 75 percent.
“As the cold weather approaches, it is critically important that these Minnesota communities receive the help they need to rebuild quickly and move forward,” said Rep. Hortman. “We have a responsibility as Minnesotans to do all we can to lend a helping hand to our friends in need.”
HF1, which passed unanimously in the House, included $68.2 million in relief for flood-damaged communities, as well as $7.4 million to address damages in the City of Wadena following this summer’s devastating tornado. Funding for the bill $32 million from the General Fund, $26 million from the Bond Proceeds Fund, $5 million from the Trunk Highway Fund; and $10 million from the State Transportation Fund.
Rep. Dittrich said that funding appropriated under the legislation will be delivered to flood- and tornado-affected communities with the utmost attention to accountability and oversight.
“After the flooding in 2007, we worked together to address loopholes in state law that allowed lax oversight and accountability in how disaster relief dollars were spent,” said Dittrich. “Those efforts have put the necessary protections in place to ensure every dollar included in this bill is used for its intended purpose.”
The bill also passed unanimously in the Senate and was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty this afternoon at the state Capitol. Lawmakers will reconvene for the 2011 Legislative Session on January 4th.