Disaster assistance bill passes the Senate

The Senate passed a bill this week that appropriates $30 million to the disaster assistance contingency account.

The state’s disaster assistance contingency account was created in 2014, in order to dispense disaster assistance funds to cities without waiting for a special session.

The account has been used 40 times, and the Legislature has appropriated $82 million for the account. Sixteen of the last 40 requests have come in the last two years. The fund has been used more often recently as natural disasters are happening more frequently and becoming more severe.

The account provides the funds for gubernatorially-declared disasters as well as the required 25% share of state funding when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declares a federal emergency. The Legislature last session funded the disaster assistance contingency account with enough dollars to account for the state’s share of FEMA’s spring 2019 flooding assessments, as well as additional state-declared emergencies. However, in January of 2020, Minnesota was informed that FEMA severely underestimated the cost of recovery and nearly doubled their assessment. 

The account is facing a $3 million deficit due to unexpected high flooding during the spring of 2019. Senate DFLers have worked to pass this bill quickly to ensure our communities are taken care of after natural disasters.

The House is expected to take up the bill on the floor once the Senate passes it. It will then go to Governor Walz who has already committed to signing the bill. (SF 3564)