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Some Lawmakers Upset At Swift Passing Of Flood Aid Bill

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – The Minnesota Legislature has passed and sent to the governor a bill for emergency aid in northeastern Minnesota.

The freak summer storm blew out roads and bridges, and buried hundreds of Duluth homes in flood water.

Don Ness, Duluth’s mayor, says the city still hasn’t recovered.

“It happened so suddenly. I went to bed on Tuesday night to a hard rainstorm, and woke up to see my city that I love torn to pieces,” Ness said.

The $167 million aid package includes emergency money for road repair. Homeowners, 80 percent of whom had no flood insurance, will get relief. And severely damaged businesses could get money to rebuild.

However, not everyone was happy about the aid package. Some GOP lawmakers, like Rep. Mark Buesgens of Jordan, were upset at the speed with which it was passed.

“We’ve got some select, anointed few who have made all these decisions, and we are to walk in here like lemmings and rubberstamp it,” Buesgens said.

Even though the disaster in Duluth directly affected his district, embattled DFL Representative Kerry Gauthier was a no show after admitting a sex incident at a highway rest stop.

And GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers renewed his call for Gauthier to resign.

“I think it kind of shows that he was unable to fulfill his office. Then why should the people of Minnesota still have him in office?” Zellers asked.

Dayton signed the aid bill Friday afternoon, saying: “I am very pleased that the Legislature has passed the disaster relief bill to assist Minnesotans whose homes, businesses and communities were ravaged earlier this summer by severe natural disasters.”

Aid could be flowing to Duluth in a matter of days.

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