Minn. Lawmakers Hammer Out Details of Disaster Relief Bill
Posted at: 08/16/2012 4:46 PM
| Updated at: 08/16/2012 10:58 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
Minnesota lawmakers are hammering out the final details of a $190 million bill in St. Paul, before an expected special session next week. That money will help the Northland and other parts of the state following flooding and other storm damage.
"I think it's in the right ball park," Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, told Eyewitness News Thursday, referring to the bill's total cost.
Whether the total changes, he said, will be determined within the next few days.
A group of lawmakers, like Reinert, are part of a work group is talking through every bit of the 23-page bill, in hopes it'll save time during the special session. Reinert has said it will last one day.
From the flood damage in northeastern Minnesota, to damage caused by other storms, if the bill is approved, the money will go toward repairs to things like infrastructure, parks and trails, homes, and businesses.
"I think the agencies have done a very good job of assessing the damage...and putting forward what they think is needed to repair the damage," Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, said.
Gimse is in the work group with Reinert, and told us he wasn't surprised by the total cost of the bill. "It breaks down very well. We knew the numbers would be up there," he said.
Under the bill, $82 million will go toward transportation-related repairs.
"It's our best estimate at this time in terms of total damage, and what it would take to return the area to the condition prior to the disaster," Tracy Hatch, Mn/DOT's Chief Financial Officer, told lawmakers.
Also under the bill, the DNR will get $22 million, and $10 million in grants will go to property owners whom Reinert said "can't rebuild their homes."
Both Senators said it is possible the $190 million figure could come down before the special session. But they said they're almost positive it won't go up.
Reinert said the state will get at least $80 million reimbursed by the federal government.