Minnesota Special Session Will Be Monday At 1 PM-Hearings Start at 8 AM

Special Session - MN State Capitol
Special Session - MN State Capitol

MN Special Session Starts Monday Oct 18th at 1pm

As we first reported this morning, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s Director of Legislative and Cabinet Affairs has told Minnesota lawmakers they will meet in special session on Monday.  The Governor’s office has now made a formal announcement that the session will start Monday at 1pm. Pawlenty had planned to call the session for this week, but had to delay while waiting for a disaster declaration for areas of southern Minnesota hit by flooding. That declaration came last night.

“We thank the federal government for providing assistance that will help Minnesota communities in their rebuilding efforts, and we look forward to their decision on help for individuals who were affected by flooding last month,” Governor Pawlenty said. “While we’re hopeful that the decision on individual assistance will be made soon, the state will not delay in its response.”

Public assistance was granted for Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rice, Rock, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, and Winona Counties.

The preliminary damage estimate was $64.1 million, though that figure will increase as more counties are added to the federal declaration and the damage assessment process continues.

Leaders of both parties and the Governor have already reached agreement on the outlines for a flood relief bill. The Senate has scheduled hearings on the bill to start Monday at 8:00 am. You will be able to watch those hearings here on The UpTake.  However, once the session is called the legislature can take up any other business. One item already proposed for the session is an anti-bullying bill.

Related Links:

Senate Flood Bill Hearing Schedule

Governor Tim Pawlenty Announces Special Session For Flood Relief – Press Release From Governor’s Office


Senate announces hearing schedule for special session

Below is the schedule of Senate hearings for Monday’s special session:

The disaster recovery bill will be reviewed by three committees:
· 8:00 a.m. – Finance – Room 123 Capitol
· 9:30 a.m. – Capital Investment – Room 123 Capitol
· 10:30 a.m. – Taxes – Room 15 Capitol

In addition, the Senate’s Economic Development Budget Division will meet at 11 a.m. in room 123 of the Capitol to review the Legislative Auditor’s report which found insufficient oversight by DEED of the 2007 flood recovery money. A copy of that report can be found here: http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/FAD/pdf/fad1031.pdf.

Floor session will convene at 1 p.m.

Press release from Governor Pawlenty’s office:

Governor Tim Pawlenty announced today that a Special Session of the legislature will convene on October 18, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. in order to address the state’s share of flood relief now that a federal disaster has been declared for 21 counties that wereaffected by flooding that began on September 22.

The federal declaration included FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program for debris removal, and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities. It also includes federal Hazard Mitigation Grants.

However, the presidential declaration does not include Individual Assistance. FEMA is continuing its evaluation and may add assistance for individuals after they complete their review. FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) helps homeowners and renters affected by a disaster with housing needs and necessary expenses.

“We thank the federal government for providing assistance that will help Minnesota communities in their rebuilding efforts, and we look forward to their decision on help for individuals who were affected by flooding last month,” Governor Pawlenty said. “While we’re hopeful that the decision on individual assistance will be made soon, the state will not delay in its response.”

Public assistance was granted for Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rice, Rock, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan, and Winona Counties.

The preliminary damage estimate was $64.1 million, though that figure will increase as more counties are added to the federal declaration and the damage assessment process continues.

During the Special Session, a bill will be presented that includes the state’s share of assistance for the counties affected by flooding last month. The legislation will also include assistance for areas of the state that were designated a federal disaster area in July as a result of tornados and severe storms that caused more than $35 million in damage.

The bill is paid for with $32.5 million from the General Fund, $26.7 million in General Obligation Bonds, $10 million from the state transportation fund, and $5 million from the Trunk Highway fund.

The flood relief provisions of the bill include:

·      $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 due to 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.

Provisions of the bill pertaining to areas declared a federal disaster (FEMA-1921-DR) in July include:

·      $5.2 million for the non-federal cost share for eligible expenses from the July storms. Counties named in that federal declaration are Blue Earth, Brown, Houston, Kittson, Nicollet, Sibley, Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele and Wadena.

·      $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.

Background

Governor Pawlenty declared a State of Emergency on September 23 as heavy rains — more than 10 inches in less than 24 hours in some communities — fell on saturated ground and caused flooding across the southern third of Minnesota. A total of 17 counties and 30 cities declared local emergencies.

On September 24, the Governor requested joint federal-state preliminary damage assessments be conducted.

In his letter to President Obama on October 1, Governor Pawlenty pointed to preliminary damage estimates that indicate 609 dwellings were affected across the region.  Hundreds of federal, state, county, city, and township roads and highways were damaged, including the city of Oronoco that experienced a washout on both ends of a major bridge to the city. Other public infrastructure damage includes wastewater treatment plants, community centers, city buildings, state and local parks, schools, and athletic fields.

Disaster Recovery Centers

Disaster Recovery Centers, staffed with state and federal representatives, will open in the affected areas later this week. The Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has announced the following locations and hours of operation:

·      Steele County

Community Center-Fairgrounds

1380 S. Elm Avenue

Owatonna, MN 55060

·      Martin County

Truman Public Schools Gymnasium

401 E. 1st Street South

Truman, MN, 56088

·      Wabasha County

Mazeppa Community Center

121 Maple Street NE 55956

Mazeppa, MN

·      Hours of Operation

o     Friday, October 15, 1pm-7pm

o     Saturday, October 16, 9am-3pm

o     Sunday, October 17, 9am-3pm

o     Monday, October 18, 9am-3pm

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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