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Disaster fund needed
Lawmakers also began looking at ways to avoid having to come back to St. Paul to approve disaster-relief funds. According to Kelly, the June storm was the 19th major disaster in Minnesota since 2000. Six have come in just the last three years.
Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, and Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, introduced measures to create an ongoing disaster-response account from which the state could draw to match federal funds. Those measures attracted bipartisan support. Dayton has voiced his support for the idea, but the issue won’t be dealt with until next year.
“I believe that will be forthcoming next session,” Dayton said last week. “I think there is a bipartisan recognition that this is an unnecessary expense to the taxpayers and there are better ways to handle this.”
The governor’s office studied whether it needed a special session at all, since a similar amount already had been appropriated for disaster relief. But it found that because the $4.7 million was approved for a different disaster, lawmakers would need to separately authorize use of the money for the June and April storms.
Bakk said there might be constitutional barriers to appropriating money without legislative approval. The state’s Constitution does not grant the executive branch authority to disburse funds without action by the Legislature. “I’m not sure we are going to be able to do it and still meet the intent of the constitution of the Legislature appropriating money,” Bakk said. “We’re going to explore it, and I certainly would like to accomplish that.”
Even a brief legislative session would not be complete without a reference to the Vikings stadium. Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, introduced a “message” bill that would require the team and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority to provide more public information about the $975 million Vikings stadium project and the Wilf family, the team’s principal owners.
Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report.
Jim Ragsdale• 651-925-5042
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger 651-925-5046.