Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account (2/28/2020)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 2/28/2020

Hello from St. Paul,

For the past two years, our communities have been forced to deal with concerns of spring flooding, and this year will likely be no exception.

When disasters strike, cities often utilize Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account to help pay for their damage. The account was created to allocate funds to communities impacted by natural disasters and to avoid calling special sessions to authorize the appropriation of these funds.

Much like last year, the Disaster Assistance Contingency Account sits nearly empty. But legislation I’m co-authoring that would refill the account has taken a major step forward.

The plan allocates $30 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to Minnesota’s disaster assistance contingency account, effective the day after final enactment. The bill, which reflects Governor Walz’ recommendation, would cover the projected $3 million deficit, provide $20 million for anticipated spring 2020 disaster expenses, and provide $7 million for disaster assistance for the remainder of the 2020-21 biennium. It was recently approved in the Minnesota House Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division.

We want impacted cities to immediately begin recovery efforts when trouble arrives. Even with a similar budget surplus last year, it took a while to put money back into the account. Now both Governor Walz and members of the House majority are on board, and I look forward to a faster success story.

I think its great news that Republicans and Democrats are now on the same page when it comes to having disaster relief money available, and that’s only going to benefit cities like Hastings, Cottage Grove, and Afton down the road. Longer term I’d like to look at finding a mechanism where the account is automatically refilled and we don’t have to continue going through this process, but for now I’m pleased with the immediate momentum for this proposal.

February is “I Love to Read Month” and I had the privilege of reading to several groups of students recently. It’s truly one of the highlights of being a state representative. The groups included Kindergarten students in Ms. Gibson’s and Ms. Wenzel’s classrooms at Kennedy Elementary School in Hastings, kindergarten students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton school in Hastings, and first graders at Newport Elementary. Thanks to all of these schools for allowing me to participate!

Minnesota School Bus Driver Appreciation Day also took place this week, and I stopped by the Hastings Bus Company to thank these professionals for helping get our kids safely to and from school each day.

Recently I had the privilege of attending an Eagle Scout Court of Honor and personally presenting Minnesota House Resolutions congratulating Ben Storm, Rick Fillmore, Sam Storm and Jason Fillmore for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in scouting. These young men are members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 9907 in Cottage Grove.

Afton constituent Ruth Ann Michnay visited with the Minnesota Society of CPAs to advocate for reduced complexity and federal conformity including Section 179, uniform application of partnership audits and creating a private letter ruling program.

Hastings constituent Paula Rabaey and Stephanie de Samlazano with Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association visited to discuss licensure updates including a reduction in physician paperwork, a license renewal date proposal and continuing education requirements.

Cottage Grove constituents Katelyn Woehnker and Austin Rose stopped by advocating for several bills on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota including Seizure Smart Schools, patient access to prescription drugs, and prior authorization reform.

Cottage Grove constituent Morgan Kielsa is a U of MN dental hygiene student and was at the Capitol with the Minnesota Dental Hygienists Association.

The Church Ambassador Network coordinated a visit with Hastings Pastors including Pastor Paris Pasch, The Journey Church, Carl Bower, Mission Pastor at The Harbor, Pastor Randy Berg, Calvary Christian Church, Pastor Neil Johnson, River of Life, Director Jeff Evans, Church Ambassador Network and Pastor Jim Anderson, The Harbor Church.

It was Biker Day at the Capitol recently and I was joined by St Croix Valley Riders members including President Mark Koon, Michelle Moreno and Rhys Moreno. Issues include opposing mandatory helmet laws, motorcycle insurance choice, anti-profiling and having a greater portion of driver license motorcycle endorsement fees going to motorcycle safety courses.

We also had Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Day at the Capitol this week. I had the pleasure of visiting with Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce members including President Wayne Butt, Director Ramona Westerberg, Chamber Executive Director Laurie Gibson Levine, Director Randy Bachman, and 2nd Vice President Dan Myers.

Kristy Barse, Chamber President at the Hastings Minnesota Area Chamber of Commerce also stopped by. I had the pleasure of having Kristy join me in the House Chamber during our floor session and in the Retiring Room.

Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants Kelsey McFarlane and Rachel Reamer, constituents from Afton and Hastings respectively, were at the Capitol with MAPA.

Wendy, Stephanie, Kaitlyn and Hastings resident Anna are Physical Therapy students at St. Kate’s. They were in recently with the Minnesota Physical Therapy Association to advocate for unrestricted direct access to physical therapy.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-3135
E-mail: rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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