A flood aid package meant to help more than half of Minnesota's counties rebound from severe flooding cleared the Minnesota Senate on Thursday.
By a 65-0 vote, the Senate approved a bill providing $17 million in assistance for recovery costs stemming from storms last June that ravaged much of the state. The house is on course to vote on the companion bill Monday.
Sen. Vicki Jensen, DFL-Owatonna, said the bill represents "one of the most fundamental things we do — and that is help our local communities recover from disaster."
Forty-seven counties and three tribal governments were covered by a federal disaster declaration. While the federal government picks up 75 percent of the tab for their eligible costs, the state usually foots the remaining bill. The state is also helping some counties left off the federal list.
Part of the bill's cost is a $3 million allotment to fix local roadways that weren't covered by the federal order.
Gov. Mark Dayton has urged lawmakers to act quickly and is expected to sign the bill when it lands on his desk.
Last year, lawmakers established an emergency fund that allowed for quicker state response in a disaster, but the available dollars were chewed up. Lawmakers will decide later this year whether to replenish that account.