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Senate passes bridge victims compensation fund

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Sen. Ron Latz
State Sen. Ron Latz sponsored the Senate bill to create an I-35W bridge victims compensation fund. His version caps individual awards at $400,000, while the House version does not.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

Senators voted 63-0 Thursday in favor of a plan that caps individual settlements at $400,000.  

The full appropriation for the fund would be $25 million, compared to the House version which totals $40 million and does not put a limit on the amount of individual awards. 

DFL Sen. Ron Latz, the bill's sponsor, says he's confident that House and Senate negotiators can come up with a compromise.

35w victims
Jennifer Holmes, whose husband Pat died in the I-35W bridge collapse, listens to testimony during a recent Senate committee meeting. Behind her is Chris Messerly, a lawyer who's representing a number of bridge collapse victims.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

"The key difference is whether to apply a cap and how much money to put into it, and we'll have to have those conversations. I think there's room to get this done."

The Senate bill also includes $750,000 for administrative costs, and $680,000 targeted to services for the children who were on a school bus when the bridge collapsed. 

Gov. Pawlenty supports the creation of a victims compensation fund. His spokesman says the governor will continue to work with legislators to find agreement.