- Minnesota Cities & The League
- Governing & Managing
- Risk Management
- Legislative Action Center
- Training & Conferences
Legislative leaders and Gov. Dayton announced on Aug. 22 that they reached agreement on a $167.5 million disaster relief package.
(Published Aug 22, 2012)
Gov. Dayton has called a special session of the Legislature to convene on this Friday, Aug. 24, in hopes that legislators will approve a $167.5 million disaster relief package. The package is intended to provide relief for communities affected by the June flooding events in northeastern Minnesota and other areas of the state, and the early July windstorm that impacted north central Minnesota.
Scope of special session limited
Only the governor can call a special session, but once the Legislature convenes, it can take any action it wishes. Because of this dynamic, the Legislature and governor traditionally reach agreement regarding the size and scope of a special session prior to it being called.
The sides finally reached such an agreement on Aug. 22. The agreement pared down the governor’s request from $189 million to $167.5 million, and the sides also agreed that no amendments would be made to the package.
Details of the special session are slowly coming together. The House Ways and Means Committee has announced that it will meet at 9 a.m. on Aug. 24, and it is likely that the Senate Finance Committee will meet as well to review the legislation. The Legislature will convene at 2 p.m. on Aug. 24.
Agreement didn’t come easy
When the Disaster Relief Working Group met on Aug. 16 to discuss in more detail Gov. Dayton’s draft emergency response bill, it was not clear whether the governor and Legislature would reach an agreement in time for the governor to call a special session on Aug. 24.
The sides had tentatively agreed to the date, but had not reached agreement on the scope of the disaster relief package. During the task force meeting, representatives from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), and the Department of Transportation testified regarding specific provisions of the governor’s approximately $189 million proposal.
Republicans expressed particular concern over proposed language that would allow money in the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) to be used “to prevent the loss of jobs or other catastrophes.” Gov. Dayton is requesting $20 million for MIF. Money from MIF is used to help businesses recover from disasters, although DEED testified that under the proposal the money used to prevent job loss would not have to be directly related to a disaster. This would be a departure from past disaster relief legislation.
During the first task force meeting on Aug. 7, one member expressed “sticker shock” at the size of the proposal, which would be considerably larger than past disaster relief packages. Much of the media coverage focused on the potential partisan dispute over the size of the package, and members of the task force again returned to this theme as members debated the size and scope of the proposal.
League staff will monitor the special legislative session and will provide updates.