Legislature OKs $4.7M for storm cleanup in 1-day special session

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Minnesota lawmakers adjourned a special one-day session just a few hours after it began Monday, having accomplished the task at hand – approving $4.7 million for 20 counties hit hard by storms earlier this year. The vote was nearly unanimous, 57-0 in the Senate and 127-1 in the House, the Star Tribune reports.

“Minnesotans come together to support one another after natural disasters and the legislature is no exception," Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said in a press statement.

The Legislature approved $4.5 million for repair to public infrastructure after June storms brought high winds and flooding to 18 counties in central and southern Minnesota. Lawmakers also agreed to send $219,141 from the general fund to Nobles and Rock counties and the city of Worthington after those areas suffered through April ice storms that toppled trees and knocked out power for days to some residents, the Star Tribune noted.

The Senate passed the bill after less than an hour of debate, and the House followed suit about an hour and a half later, the Pioneer Press reports.

Lawmakers had agreed to limit the scope of the one-day session to disaster relief, but that didn't stop lawmakers from introducing 47 bills, most by Republicans who aim to repeal new taxes approved in the regular session earlier this year, MPR reported.

The only "no" vote on the disaster relief bill was Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, who was irked that Ramsey did not qualify for money because it fell just short of a damage threshold set by the federal government, the Star Tribune reported.

The federal government is paying for 75 percent of the $18 million cleanup costs from the storms, provided the state would pitch in the other 25 percent, or $4.5 million.

The other counties that will benefit from the money: Benton, Big Stone, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, McLeod, Morrison, Pope, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Traverse and Wilkin. Cleanup efforts are well under way, the St. Cloud Times notes.

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