Minnesota lawmakers eye Aug. 24 for flood-relief sessionSen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said Monday a special legislative session to deal with flood relief issues is tentatively set for Aug. 24.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said Monday a special legislative session to deal with flood relief issues is tentatively set for Aug. 24.
The decision to call a special session rests with Gov. Mark Dayton. Spokesman Bob Hume says Aug. 24 is a “tentative goal” based on talks with legislative leaders.
Legislative leaders are advising lawmakers to prepare for a session on that date. A memo from House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader David Senjem says the date is tentative and final details aren’t yet firmed up.
Reinert said he expects the special session to remain short and focused exclusively on the issue of disaster relief.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency already has approved aid that should cover 75 percent of the cost of making needed repairs to public infrastructure damaged by this summer’s flooding.
With many local governments already tapped out, Reinert said, “I’ll be advocating for the state to pick up the rest of the tab.”
Reinert said he feels optimistic other state lawmakers will support filling the full remaining 25 percent funding gap.
Two more items also are on Reinert’s wish list for the session:
He said he intends to seek authorization for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency to issue grants and low-interest loans to help flood victims replace furnaces, water heaters and make other essential repairs.
Reinert said he also will explore the possibility of obtaining some sort of buyout to help people whose properties have been condemned as a result of flood damage.
Reinert acknowledged these two additional forms of support will probably be more difficult to obtain.
Dayton and lawmakers have promised to provide disaster aid to Duluth and other communities hit by severe floods in June. Federal disaster assistance is also coming, but the state is required to put up a share of the funding.
Lawmakers, including Reinert, will hold the first in a series of disaster relief meetings today at the Capitol.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.