Minn. lawmaker eyes special session alternative

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Some Minnesota lawmakers are questioning whether it’s necessary to hold special sessions in response to every small natural disaster.

The Legislature is set to convene Monday to consider $4.5 million to match federal relief dollars in response to late-June storms. It’s the smallest state match ever to prompt a special session.

Special sessions for disaster relief have grown increasingly common, with six since 1997 and four since 2007. Democratic state Rep. Gene Pelowski of Winona says most are unnecessary, and he’s looking into legislation to create a permanent disaster relief fund that officials could draw upon as needed.

Gov. Mark Dayton supports such a fund. But former House Speaker Steve Sviggum, a veteran of several disaster-relief sessions, says it’s not wise to take such spending decisions away from lawmakers.

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