Lawmakers shore up response funds for bird flu

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ST. PAUL — Lawmakers moved Tuesday to provide emergency money as Minnesota struggles to get a deadly bird flu outbreak under wraps, but a procedural snag slowed its path to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill providing nearly $900,000 in emergency funding to the state for its ongoing response efforts, calling the outbreak a “crisis.”

The deadly H5N2 virus has so far cost Minnesota — the country’s top turkey-producing state — more than 2 million turkeys after being detected on more than 30 farms. The deadly H5N2 virus has so far continues to spread in the nation’s largest turkey-producing state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has sent in several teams of experts to monitor and stem the virus’ spread.

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But the legislative funding could get temporarily hung up over a disagreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

House Republicans objected to the Senate bill’s inclusion of language that would move back a reporting deadline on the state’s budget reserves. The House voted late Tuesday to set up a conference committee to worth through the differences.

Dayton promised to sign the bill as soon as it reached him. He said the virus’ threat is still growing and state officials aren’t yet sure of its total scope.

“We will come through for those turkey producers who suffered these terrible losses,” the governor vowed Tuesday. “We can never do enough in a situation like this.”