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Dayton, lawmakers agree to Friday disaster session

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota legislators will return to St. Paul Friday to approve $168 million in disaster relief for floods and other storm damage in June and July.

An agreement Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders signed at 11:27 a.m. today allows no other action during the session, which must end by 7 a.m. Saturday.

The cost is down from about $190 million Dayton originally proposed, but he and his staff said much of that difference is because legislative and administration negotiators found funds not spent on previous projects that can be used for disaster relief.

The most money, $79 million, would go to repair road flood damage.

The session is to begin at 2 p.m. Friday, although House and Senate committees are expected to look over the bills earlier Friday. However, the agreement does not allow the committees to make changes unless all four legislative leaders and Dayton sign an agreement.

"This is not our budget," Dayton said. "This is the amount of the damage."

The bill not only provides $25 million to match federal aid, expected to top $100 million, but it also would establish low-interest loans to people who cannot get help elsewhere to repair damages. Some money will be available for temporary housing.

The federal government rejected Minnesota's request for individual and business aid.

"Nobody can make them whole," Dayton said of storm victims, but if the Legislature passes the relief package it will help.