The long-awaited federal disaster declaration was issued last night, so the Minnesota Legislature will hold a special session Monday on storm relief.
The session will start at 1 p.m., Gov. Tim Pawlenty said this morning. Flooding affected 21 southern Minnesota counties; legislators are looking at an $80 million package that deals primarily with damages caused in the late September flooding:
- $15 million for damaged state highway infrastructure and local roads and bridges.
- $14 million to the Department of Natural Resources for flood hazard mitigation grants, clean-up of public waterways, and repair of river gauges, and the repair or relocation of the Oronoco dam.
- $12 million for the non-federal cost share. Under the terms of a disaster declaration, the federal government covers 75 percent of eligible costs and the state covers the remaining non-federal share.
- $10 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund, administered by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, to provide locally administered grants or loan programs to eligible organizations, including businesses, directly affected by the disaster. To increase accountability, DEED is required to report to the legislature before making any grants.
- $10 million for the Reinvest in Minnesota program to acquire easements from landowners on marginal lands in the disaster area to protect soil and water quality and to support fish and wildlife habitat.
- $4 million for the Quick Start program administered by Minnesota Housing. Quick Start helps homeowners who are unable to repair or rebuild their homes because of flood damage expenses that exceed private insurance and federal assistance. The program provides forgivable, no-interest loans for home repair, new construction or a comparable replacement home, mobile homes, or single-family rental repair.
- $4 million to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for livestock investment grants, organic certification assistance, forage production loss offsets for livestock producers, and no-interest disaster recovery loans.
- $3 million to help communities with erosion and sediment control.
- $523,000 for school districts that lost per-pupil funding or incurred increased transportation costs.
- $500,000 for the Public Finance Authority. The PFA makes low-interest loans and grants available to finance infrastructure that might otherwise be unaffordable to communities if they had to borrow money for the projects at market rates.
- $250,000 for clean-up of historical buildings.
There’s also scheduled to be some money to help pay for damage caused by a June tornado:
- $5.2 million for the non-federal cost share for eligible expenses in Blue Earth, Brown, Houston, Kittson, Nicollet, Sibley, Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele and Wadena counties.
- $750,000 to update Wadena’s existing pre-design and design plans for public facilities.
- $693,000 for school districts that incurred uninsured losses to buildings and equipment.
Two DFL legislators are pushing to have an anti-bullying bill included in the issues to be considered during the special session, but the governor and legislative leaders have said they want to focus exclusively on the storm damage relief.