Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Response relief plan laid out

Published (2/22/2008)
By Brian Hogenson
Share on: 

A framework for state agencies to use in responding to a natural disaster that qualifies for a presidential disaster declaration may be created.

HF2904, sponsored by Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr. (DFL-Winona), was approved Feb. 20 by the House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee and referred to the House Finance Committee.

Pelowski said that throughout Minnesota’s 150 years of statehood, a statutory framework or policy for responding to natural disasters has been lacking, leading to a piece-by-piece response.

“There has been no statutory reference,” Pelowski said. “What we have done, frankly with the best of intentions, (the result) has been less than adequate.”

The bill provides a framework for responding when a presidential disaster declaration has been issued. Appropriations to implement the bill must be made in law after a disaster has been declared. The bill specifies that state assistance is not for disaster-related costs that are eligible for federal aid, private insurance coverage or other reimbursement.

Rep. Laura Brod (R-New Prague) pointed out the challenges natural disasters pose for smaller communities.

“There are a lot of smaller communities that, whether it has risen to a presidential level or not, obviously have difficulty managing the challenge brought forward by specific disasters,” Brod said, using the 2006 tornado outbreak in Le Sueur County as an example.

Pelowski responded by saying the bill will still provide a statutory base for those situations.

“We took the level of a presidential declaration because we needed a base. If there is a disaster that does not warrant a presidential declaration you can look at this statutory language and you can use it disaster by disaster,” Pelowski said.

“I think it’s smart and I can’t believe we haven’t done this before,” said Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth).

Pelowski stressed that he has worked with Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s office on the bill and anticipates the governor’s support.

A companion bill SF2607, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

At Issue: Offering a way out
Omnibus public safety policy bill aims to help future workers
(view full story) Published 5/9/2008

Minnesota Index
Figures and statistics on crime and punishment in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 3/28/2008

At Issue: Preparing for the worst
Emergency responders push for new training centers
(view full story) Published 3/14/2008