The half a dozen hearings leading up to a special session provided an emotional build up to floor sessions on flooding. Zumbro Falls Mayor Alan VanDeWalker’s voice broke as he tried to hold back tears in front of lawmakers saying “This wiped out my town, we need the help.” Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester) reached out to comfort the mayor. The flood relief package runs about $80 million dollars.
Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem acknowledged how much the mayors of flooded towns have been through, calling VanDeWalker “a rock with a melting heart.” Republicans have been active seeking the funds, although the moderate Sen. Steve Dille (R-Dassel) noted an anti-government mood in the electorate saying “There is an element so far to the right that does not support this, I’m supportive.”
Retiring Sen. Steve Murphy (DFL-Red Wing) also got emotional, but that empathy quickly turned to anger for a lack of a federal response. The feisty former Marine said “We got the short end of the stick from the federal government, it’s up to us Minnesotans to take care of our own.”