On the heels of a federal disaster declaration for much of southern Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has called a special legislative session for Monday to consider spending up to $80 million in state money on disaster relief.
The funding, tentatively worked out by the governor and legislative leaders earlier this week, would pay expenses related to flood damage in 21 counties in September and tornado damage in northern Minnesota and elsewhere in June.
The federal declaration clears the way for grants for debris removal and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities. It includes federal grants to mitigate potential flooding. It does not include money for individual property owners, which federal disaster officials turned down Thursday.
Upon getting word of that rejection, Pawlenty sent a letter to the Small Business Administration, asking for low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and private, nonprofit organizations.
In his letter, Pawlenty wrote that 183 homes and 41 businesses were destroyed or substantially damaged by the floods.
"We thank the federal government for providing assistance that will help Minnesota communities in their rebuilding efforts, and we look forward to their decision on help for individuals who were affected by flooding last month," Pawlenty said earlier Thursday.
Total state-federal funding for the disaster relief for public facilities and land could reach $140 million. The state's portion would come mostly from $32.5 million in general funds and $26.7 million in general obligation bonds.
The tentative agreement between the governor and legislative leaders calls for spending $73.6 million in state money on relief for flood damage that occurred in September, and another $6.6 million on tornadoes and other weather damage from June and July.
The federal disaster declaration announced Wednesday evening clears the way for assistance for flood damage to Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Dodge, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rice, Rock, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Watonwan and Winona counties.
In northern Minnesota, the city of Wadena would get $750,000 to design new public buildings wrecked in a June tornado. Another $5.2 million would cover damage in July to communities in central and southern Minnesota.
The special session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday. Pawlenty and lawmakers had previously predicted it would take less than a day, but there is a possibility other issues could arise.
Two DFL legislators have proposed anti-bullying legislation to laws against harassment in schools. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, both DFLers from Minneapolis, have not said whether they would hear the anti-bullying bill. But Pogemiller issued a statement Wednesday saying "we've all worked very hard" on the flood and tornado disaster relief legislation. "We are not going to let anything get in the way of this much-needed disaster relief bill."
Pawlenty has said the session should be limited to disaster relief.
The anti-bullying bill would need a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to be taken up during a one-day special session.
Staff writer Bob von Sternberg contributed to this report. Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210