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Pawlenty: 'Extraordinary cases' among 35W victims could get extra

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The morning after
Vehicles rested on the collapsed 35W bridge the day after the accident.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

(AP) - Gov. Tim Pawlenty is contemplating extra aid for the worst-hurt bridge collapse victims.

      Pawlenty told The Associated Press on Monday that he still supports a $400,000 limit on compensation for individual victims of the Interstate 35W bridge disaster. That's the approach endorsed by the Minnesota Senate last week.

      But the governor said some extra money could be set aside for a small number of "extraordinary cases" whose needs wouldn't be met under the $400,000 cap. A neutral administrator could distribute that aid.

      Both houses of the Legislature have approved bridge victim compensation bills, but they differ on the details. The $40 million House plan would allow an administrator to parcel out the money among victims with no limit for individuals. The $25 million Senate bill caps individual awards.

      Conference committee negotiators are expected to start work on a compromise bill in the coming days.

      Victims of the Aug. 1 disaster have been pushing for no individual limits on awards, saying a cap would hurt those with the severest injuries and those who lost parents and spouses.

      Pawlenty says his idea is "just a concept" and details remain to be worked out with lawmakers.

      "The idea would be to reserve some amount for these small number of truly extraordinary cases that wouldn't fit under the cap," the Republican governor said.

      Pawlenty's budget earmarked $40 million for the bridge compensation fund, the same amount as the House bill.

             (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)