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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Dayton orders emergency aid in response to Hubbard County wildfire

Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday ordered emergency assistance to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center to aid with the fight against a northern Minnesota wildfire. 

Dayton's emergency order frees up resources for the Fire Center, State Emergency Operations Center and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for widespread wildfire suppression in Hubbard County, where a fire near Paul Bunyan State Forest has consumed some 450 acres and as of Friday afternoon was only about 10 percent contained. 

According to Dayton's office, most other counties in the northern two-thirds fo the state currently have an active Red Flag Warning, meaning conditions are ripe for wildfires. These conditions are expected to linger at least the next few days. 

A number of state resources have already been deployed to fight the fire, including water-scooping planes, a large air tanker and a helicopter. Dayton's order allows the National Guard to provide additional personnel and equipment necessary to continuing providing firefighting support until it's no longer needed. 

Senate DFLers propose borrowing $1.5B for improvement projects

Senate Democrats on Monday proposed borrowing nearly $1.5 billion to pay for capital improvement projects across the state, setting up a clash with House Republicans who have yet to unveil their much smaller, $600- million bonding plan.

The bonding proposal, or so-called jobs bill, would fund projects at Minnesota colleges and universities, upgrade some roads and bridges, water treatment facilities and improvements to the state's public safety and parks programs. If approved, it would create an estimated 40,000 jobs, Senate DFLers said.

"This is not a 'Cadillac' bonding bill, it's a Ford or a Chevy bonding bill," said Sen. Leroy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, and chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee. "It's very basic."

Stumpf provided an overview of the bill Monday in a news conference, where he highlighted projects he said were critical to fund this year. 

Stumpf said about a third of the bill would pay for transportation and infrastructure upgrades, while the next largest chunk -- about 18 percent -- would pay for projects for education and human services. 

About 13 percent of the proposal would pay for environmental protection; 11 percent for public safety and another 10 percent for asset protection.

Among major projects included in the bill are $160 million for the University of Minnesota system, $117 million for human services, and $127 million for employment and economic development. A full list of projects can be found here

Senate DFL leaders in recent weeks have called on House Republicans to unveil their bonding proposal, which GOP leaders have budgeted $600 million for. By law, bonding bills have to originate in the House.

Senate Democrats and Gov. Mark Dayton have proposed more than twice as much for the bonding bill, arguing the state should take advantage of low interest rates.

The bonding bill is expected to be hotly debated at the Capitol this year. It requires a super majority to pass, requiring votes from all four legislative caucuses.