Updated: Dayton asks federal government for storm loans

Gov. Mark Dayton wants the federal Small Business Administration to make low-interest loans available to repair home and business with flood and other June storm damage as state leaders aim for a special legislative session on Aug. 24.

The governor said he hopes to have a written agreement among him and four legislative leaders Friday or by early next week at the latest that says the special session only will deal with disaster-relief legislation.

β€œI believe we are on track,” he said about the Aug. 24 session, but a Thursday legislative meeting will provide a better prediction.

Dayton wants the state to chip in $190 million for disaster relief, a number that Republicans said brought sticker shock. On Wednesday, Dayton said he would not insist on a specific number, but warned that if lawmakers approve too little money they would be held accountable β€œin the court of public opinion.”

The SBA application is for St. Louis, Carlton and Pine and adjoining counties and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

His Wednesday request comes after the federal government rejected a request for individual assistance and his appeal of the denial last week. The president did declare those and other counties disaster areas, but that only provides federal money to governments, not businesses or individuals.

To get the SBA help, Dayton certified that at least 25 homes and businesses sustained uninsured loses of at least 40 percent of their value.

June floods caused millions of dollars worth of damage in northeastern Minnesota, with less reported in other parts of the state. Federal officials said home and business damage did not meet requirements for federal aid.

July wind storms in parts of Minnesota also caused considerable damage, which may be addressed in the special session.

Some state leaders say they want to include individual relief in the package, but others say that has not been done in past disasters.

Dayton told reporters that he invited legislative leaders a month ago to meetings to begin planning a disaster bill. He said he is disappointed they did not accept.

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