Swedzinski supports disaster relief funding bill

Following record-setting snowfall in Minnesota last month, and another major snowfall event this past weekend, weather experts are predicting major flooding throughout the state — including the greater Marshall area — this spring.

Yet Minnesota’s Disaster Assistance Contingency Account —created to allocate funds to communities impacted by natural disasters and to avoid calling special sessions to authorize the appropriation of these funds — sits empty.

To rectify this problem, House Republicans are sponsoring legislation that will replenish this needed funding so impacted cities will be able to immediately begin recovery efforts.

“The contingency account was designed to help provide relief dollars on the fly, but that only works if there is money available to appropriate,” said Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent).

“Flooding events in Brainerd and Duluth last year drained $11 million from the account and now it’s time to restore the funds ahead of similar episodes that could occur this year.”

The bill House Republicans propose would transfer $20 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and another $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to the contingency account, effective the day after final enactment.

Gov. Tim Walz and House Democrats have proposed putting $10 million into the account for 2019, but Swedzinski said that amount would be insufficient based on last year’s use and this year’s flood predictions.

“A year ago, we saw how quickly this funding can be depleted and the $10 million others are proposing simply won’t cut it,” Swedzinski said.

“This issue is too important to wait until the end of session in late May, when any flooding already is likely to have occurred and we run the risk of these funds becoming subject to political gamesmanship. The urgency is here, so let’s take care of it now. It would be irresponsible to ignore the warnings and let ourselves be unprepared.”

Rep. Chris Swedzinski

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