Special disaster session negotiations to continue

State leaders reached no decision today about scheduling a special legislative session to pass a disaster-relief bill, leaving unsettled whether that bill can be approved as expected on Friday.

“They are still working,” said Bob Hume, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Hume and Republican House spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said they knew of no specific problems and the goal still was to hold the session Friday.

A meeting among legislative leaders and Dayton broke up Monday afternoon when the time came for the governor to announce a Minnesota Supreme Court appointment. Since he had another obligation soon afterwards, he and legislative leaders did not plan further meetings Monday.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean said Republicans want to make sure that there is accountability for whatever money is spend on relief from June floods and July wind storms.

Boyne said Republicans also want to make sure the $190 million Dayton requests is needed now. During a legislative meeting last week, some Republicans said that if money is not needed right away, lawmakers should wait to approve it until next year’s legislative session.

Dayton has said he did not need to agree on a total amount to be spent on disaster relief, just that the Legislature would only consider disaster aid.

A special session, whether it is Friday or later, is to approve money to repay local expenses and take care of state costs for government infrastructure, such as transportation.

June floods caused more than $108 million damage in northeastern Minnesota, including Duluth, and lesser amounts south of the Twin Cities. July windstorms blew down trees in several areas, especially around Bemidji and elsewhere along U.S. 2 in northern Minnesota.

Nearly $30 million is designated for helping individuals and businesses after the federal government rejected Minnesota’s request for that help.

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