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MN House Committee Reduces Proposed Mitigation Funding

May 6, 2011
Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul...

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This week, the Forum‘s Capital Chatter blog/column takes note of some activity in St. Paul on proposed flood mitigation funding legislation:

A new legislative plan to fund anti-flood efforts would spend less than one discussed earlier this year and gives no guarantees about what projects would be funded.

A bill debated in a Wednesday House Capital Investment Committee hearing would send $28 million to flood-fighting projects statewide. That is less than a $55 million proposal discussed in the committee a few weeks ago that officials of flood-affected communities said at the time was too small…

In an interview, [Capital Investment Chairman Larry Howes, R-Walker] said he is not receptive to spending more money.

The earlier bill, which never received a committee vote, contained a list of communities that would receive funding for things like dikes. But Howes’ new bill leaves decisions about where money would be spent to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Howes said the DNR knows how best to use the money and spending decisions should be flexible to meet Minnesota’s needs.

A DNR official said that if he were to spend the money now, there would be nine projects in the Red River Valley and 10 elsewhere in the state, but he did not enumerate the projects.

The measure is termed an “emergency” bonding bill, but Rep. Bev Scalze, DFL-Little Canada, said she sees no urgent need to send money to communities not now flooded.

“People in my district may say sitting in traffic three hours is an emergency,” she said.

Howes said the money is needed to build structures and do other work to prevent future flooding.

Howes’ committee will take up the bill again on Tuesday and he said he hopes to have it in front of the full House about a week later. The Legislature must adjourn May 23.

Dayton on Wednesday said he could sign a bonding bill, even one that goes beyond flood aid, even if a budget is not finished by May 23.

Might want to keep an eye on this.

EDIT 10 May 11:

A public works bill funding $28 million in flood-prevention projects is expected to reach the full Minnesota House before lawmakers adjourn for the year on May 23, but another funding bill also may be possible.

“I hope and pray there is a bonding bill that follows this,” Chairman Larry Howes of the House Capital Investment Committee said Tuesday before it approved via voice vote the bill for flood projects and to improve a Coon Rapids dam so it can stop invasive species from making their way up the Mississippi River…..

Independent studies have found that $1 spent on hazard mitigation saves an average of $4 in disaster-related costs.

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