Lawmakers promise quick action on Browns Valley flood aid

Welcome sign
The community of Browns Valley sustained major flood damage in March.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

State lawmakers are renewing their pledge to provide help to Browns Valley.

Assistance for the flood-damaged city was included in a bonding bill that Gov. Pawlenty vetoed Tuesday. The governor urged lawmakers to approve the $2 million for Browns Valley as a stand-alone bill.

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, says an emergency funding bill for Browns Valley is on a fast track.

"It's important that we provide relief for the folks in Browns Valley. And we're going to move very quickly on that," says Marquart, "now that we know that we can't go through the bonding route, which would have been our first preference."

The Browns Valley bill already cleared a Senate committee Wednesday morning. A House panel takes up the measure Thursday. Supporters hope to have the bill signed into law by the end of the week.

In March, melting snow and ice jams caused the Minnesota River to overflow its banks and water swept through the small town near the South Dakota border.

Many homes sustained water damage and some residents have been unable to return to their houses.

Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon, who chairs the Senate Capital Investment Committee, said no other projects are as crucial in terms of timing. He said he hasn't decided whether to assemble a new bonding bill to take care of other construction projects.

In vetoing the bigger bill, Pawlenty took aim at the $334 million price tag. He said it was too large for a year in which a borrowing bill is a lower priority than the basic state budget.

Pawlenty's own projects package contained $71 million worth of projects.

Langseth said Pawlenty needs to prove he's interested in compromise.

"We're not going to just do whatever the governor says we have to do," Langseth said. "He isn't going to write our bill for us."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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