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Minnesota Legislature

New Law: Disaster relief technical changes

Published (7/15/2011)
By Nick Busse
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Lessons learned from flood relief efforts in the wake of the September 2010 floods in southern Minnesota form the basis for a package of mostly technical changes to the state’s disaster relief statutes.

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca), a new law makes a number of changes to how state agencies are allowed to spend disaster relief funds. Unless otherwise noted, it takes effect Aug. 1, 2011.

The law will allow unspent funds from the October 2010 disaster relief law to be used for grants to cover a portion of outstanding municipal bond debt for water and sewer infrastructure in counties affected by the 2010 floods. This provision takes effect May 25, 2011. Another provision allows state funds to be used to pay the local share of flood hazard mitigation grants. This section is effective retroactively to Oct. 19, 2010.

Selected other changes made by the law include:

• permitting the Board of Water and Soil Resources to use disaster-related funds to address “critical conservation problems” and extend disaster relief grants for up to two years;

• clarifying how disaster enrollment impact aid is to be calculated by the Department of Education;

• restricting the use of money from the Minnesota Investment Fund to address physical damages only;

• providing that organizations receiving forgivable loans from the Minnesota Investment Fund must remain in the community for five years, after which a loan forgiveness schedule must be followed;

• allowing the Health Department to waive the 60-day written notice requirement regarding layaway of nursing home beds;

• allowing certain transportation-related funds to be used for demolition and design purposes for road and bridge reconstruction projects; and

• allowing the Public Safety Department to use flood relief appropriations to help coordinate long-term recovery activities.

HF1088/ SF1044*/CH67

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