Legislature OKs disaster relief

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Minnesota lawmakers allocated $4.5 million during a special session Monday that will help 18 counties — including Freeborn County — pay for repairs for severe storms in June.

The bill passed the House and Senate on near-unanimous votes. Rep. Alice Hausman of St. Paul cast the lone dissenting vote in protest over her county being excluded from the aid.

The action came after President Barack Obama in July signed a federal disaster relief declaration. The state had to appropriate the funding to secure matching funds from the federal government. The funds will go toward repairing damaged roads, bridges, buildings and other public infrastructure.

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District 27A Rep. Shannon Savick praised lawmakers for working together to help the counties impacted by the storms.

Other counties getting relief are Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin.

“Minnesota has a long history of putting partisan politics aside when disaster strikes,” Savick said. “Our communities deserve this kind of support from the state and federal government.”

Savick was an author of the bill.

The relief bill does not appropriate any new funds and has no impact on the general fund.

The funding will be distributed through the Department of Public Safety.

Barring another special session, the full contingent of lawmakers won’t return to the Capitol until the 2014 session begins in late February. Both Democrats and Republicans proposed sales tax repeals. The top targets were new sales taxes on farm equipment repairs, storage and warehousing services, and on transactions between businesses. There were bills to repeal authorization for a union organizing vote by some home day care providers, and several bills related to the ongoing Minnesota Vikings stadium construction.

Dayton and Democratic leaders signaled willingness to consider repeal of some sales taxes but could not agree with Republicans on how far to go so they left it off the special session agenda.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said Republicans were only reluctantly on board with the special session’s small frame.

“We really feel we’re missing an opportunity to take care of some of the mistakes the Democrats made,” he said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.