Reinert Named to Flood Recovery Legislative Working Group
Senator Roger Reinert has been selected to serve on a working group of legislators, which will negotiate flood aid legislation to help communities hit hardest by the June 20 storms. He and Senator Tony Lourey will be the two Senate members of the group.
President Obama signed a disaster declaration for much of Northeastern Minnesota earlier this month, which will allow FEMA to fund 75% of the approved infrastructure repair costs. These dollars will go towards debris removal, emergency services, repairing or replacing damaged public infrastructure like roads, bridges, buildings, utilities, and recreation areas. The remaining 25% of the total costs must be provided by a state and local government match.
“In this working group, I will strongly advocating for the state’s commitment to fund the full 25% FEMA match,” said Senator Reinert. “One possible scenario, however, is that the state would only commit to 15%, leaving local governments to shoulder the remaining balance.”
Senator Reinert went on to say, “With all the other expenses communities like Duluth are incurring in recovery, I don’t believe it is feasible for local governments to bear the additional cost burden.”
In addition to the FEMA match, Senator Reinert will be prioritizing three additional major areas of local concern in flood aid legislation. First, he is concerned with impacts to individual residences that have lost their homes due to extensive flood damage. Many of these homeowners may only receive a maximum of $3000 in FEMA aid. Second, Senator Reinert is advocating for assistance to area nonprofits. The Minnesota Ballet, for example, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of theatre sets and props during the flood. Thirdly, Senator Reinert will advocate for aid to assist in repairing seriously damaged parks and trails in Duluth.
“I feel very optimistic about finding the necessary funds to repair our damaged public infrastructure,” said Senator Reinert. “However, the challenge to the State will be these other areas – especially the individual homeowners who have suffered serious damage.”
Going forward the working group will be actively negotiating with the Dayton administration to ready legislation for a Special Session. The third full week of August seems the most likely date at this point for the Special Session to be called.