A bill authored by state Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona) that would free up more funds for disaster relief was passed by the Minnesota House on Thursday.
The legislation allocates $10 million from the general fund into the state’s disaster contingency account for disasters that occur during the legislative session’s interim. Pelowski not only authored this bill, he created the legislation that established the disaster contingency account in 2014.
“This contingency fund was created, primarily, for when we’re not in session to avoid a special session,” Pelowski said in a release. “Should a disaster hit now, we would not use this fund. We would appropriate money because we’re in session. If we were not in session, this fund, assuming there was an emergency declaration from the President or Governor, would then set protocols in place so that we could immediately get help without a special session. There is nothing special about a special session. This account was underfunded the last four years, and this legislation backfills it for the current fiscal year. We’re going to get this bill to the governor, and then we’re going to take the steps that need to be made to make this account solvent.”
Legislation funding the disaster contingency account for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 recently passed out of the House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division. Having passed in the Senate last week, SF 307 will now go to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for his expected signature.