Monday, March 30, 2009

Hijacked Legislation

Water rights are among the most valued property rights anywhere. Indeed, what is land without water? Montana has long honored a prior appropriations doctrine, which means that the first person to hold a water right in time has priority for water. First in time, first in right. It's the basis for protecting prior appropriators from subsequent users that may adversely affect existing water rights.
Today in floor debate in the Montana House of Representatives, a bill was presented that proposes a last-in-time, first-in-right model for the energy industry that produces coal bed methane (CBM), natural gas. There are a number of critically bad proposals in this bill: it gives the Board of Oil and Gas, which grants drilling permits, not water rights, jurisdiction over water; in one part it restricts any release to surface water but in another, it grants release to surface water; and it grants temporary permits through which entire subsurface aquifers may be dewatered by CBM operators. The bill was heard by the House Agriculture committee last week, but usually, energy- or water rights-related bills are heard by our Energy or Natural Resources committees. This one went to Ag.
CBM works by pumping up water from underground aquifers, which decreases the pressure underground in strata where the natural gas is held. Once the water is pumped off, the gas can be pumped out, but the water is not replaced, and any other wells drilled into that aquifer, for irrigation or stock water or domestic water, are then without the water. There have been efforts to require industry to recharge (refill) the aquifers by holding the water they pump up and requiring that they then pump it back in, but those efforts have failed. Industry says it's too expensive and troublesome. I think having other water users' water pumped off is troublesome. Additionally, CBM water is almost always highly salinated and highly mineralized, making it bad for irrigating, and bad for surface waters. Montana is in legal action against the State of Wyoming because of that state's discharge into the Powder and Tongue Rivers, which run north into Montana; because of Wyoming's CBM surface water discharges, the saline and mineral levels in those rivers are off the charts, furthering compromising our water users' uses.

Judge Honzel issued an opinion that restricts the use of CBM water per our state laws. That was the right call, both for the beneficial use versus the wasting of water, prohibited in Montana, and to protect our senior water rights holders. This bill proposes to absolutely twist our water rights statutes and the prior appropriations doctrine, all for one use, for one industry, for a short-term gain.

The bill is also a sham: its number is HB575, but it's not that bill. The House Agriculture committee heard and considered HB575 and that bill did not pass committee. Then an amendment came forth that replaced all language and all sections of HB575 with language from HB505, from a Senate sponsor, and for the first time ever, I've seen this language:

(Refer to Introduced Bill)
Strike everything after the enacting clause and insert:

This is abhorrent.

I voted against the bill, but it passed with a 59-41 vote. An amendment proposed by Rep. David Roundstone failed, which would have required the Board of Oil and Gas to certify that any withdrawal of water does not adversely affect senior water rights holders. The amendment failed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Queen Bee

Each day, the Speaker of the House calls the chamber to order and rolls through a number of Orders of Business, like messages from the Senate, First Reading of Bills, etc. Then he names a Chair of the Day from the 100 Representatives. Yesterday, I was Chair of the Day!




And some glimpses of life in the chamber of the House of Representatives from this past week:

Cinnamon bears sent to me by my seatmates while I was chairing the committee; delivered by a page to me at the rostrum. Nice! My people love me and send me cinnamon bears!













The first car in the lot on Saturday morning, 6:30 a.m. before an 8 o'clock Call to Order in the House of Representatives. I give this work my all.












Oh, the teal suede shoes with copper leather toe band and silver buckles. Loveliness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sustenance in Hand

There has been a lot going on lately, bad stuff: a plane crash in Butte on Sunday that killed three families and the pilot of the plane, a terrible fire in Miles City yesterday that involved eight businesses and an entire city block, the earlier gas explosion and fire in Bozeman and the subsequent investigation, the fire in Whitehall the day after the Bozeman thing, good grief. What is happening?!?

At times like this, amidst the furor of a legislative session, a representative finds sustenance wherever she can. On this day, it's a handful of goldfish crackers. It's a nice nod to the snack cracker that got me through college: I remember all-nighters in the Architecture studio at Montana State University, when goldfish crackers and Diet Coke figured prominently in my diet. Funny that they do now, too.

I presented a bill in a Senate committee today and I'll do the same with another this afternoon. House Bill 572, to establish state matching grants for SBIR/STTR grantees, was heard in Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs just before noon. House Bill 480, for non-resident youth upland game bird licenses, will be considered by the Senate Fish, Wildlife, and Parks committee this afternoon. Cross your fingers for passage of both bills.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day at the Montana Capitol

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The Montana Capitol celebrates with a foggy, moody morning that shrouds the Meagher statue even as it is bunted in the colors of Eire. For the day, we replace the Montana state flag with the Irish flag, too.








This morning, pipers and drums in the rotunda; the Springthistle Pipe Band played for us, and Irish dancers followed.








Not to be outdone, I and my seatmates at our desks on the floor of the House in our Irish green...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What I've been working on...

Since the explosion and fire in Bozeman a week and a half ago, I've been working on getting unemployment benefits expedited for workers of the businesses ruined in the disaster. Employees cannot present the usual documents required to file for benefits; those records were lost. W-2s, hourly wage statements, length of employment, etc. were on computers or bookkeepers' ledgers, so those requirements will be waived. For employees who weren't full-time and therefore not eligible for unemployment benefits, we're trying to find ways to pay some benefit. First Security Bank in Bozeman opened an account days after the blast and fire for some relief for those workers, and I've been working on some kind of unemployment benefits for them.

I've been in contact with the Montana Historical Society in Helena with questions on salvaging building materials for use in reconstruction. There's concern that, even if materials appear intact, they may not be structurally sound. For instance, there was a lot of brickwork in the buildings in the blast, and those bricks were blown into the street, brick walls toppled onto the site, and everything coated in dust that we're not sure doesn't have some environmental contaminant in it. If you drop a brick, then pick it up, it might look okay, but hairline fractures inside may not be detected. I love our historic downtown Bozeman and I know all our citizens, business owners, and visitors do, too. We'll work extra hard to keep the character the same or better, but using the actual materials that were in the blast may not be possible. Everything will help in getting the site back in shape: historic photos, recent photos, and indeed, some of the building materials may be usable. There are many people dedicated to re-establishing the site in our lovely downtown.

I've been trying to help to get Small Business Administration loans established for downtown businesses affected directly or indirectly by the event. For those businesses that need low-interest, relaxed term loans for demolition, site clearing, and rebuilding their businesses, these loans could help. For businesses with losses from fewer patrons, they can apply, too, showing that sales and traffic is down compared with the same period the year prior. Usually, SBA loans need a moderate number of businesses to start, and that pool may be relaxed to as few as three or five businesses in this case, which is great news! More than those initial three could participate, of course, but the relaxed requirement can help Bozeman businesses immediately. The discussions about the SBA loans began the day after the event, and should be established soon.

Just two days after the blast, I wondered about the tax increment financing (TIF) district downtown and the impact of the property values on the TIF district. I spoke with Chris Naumann, the executive director of the Downtown Business Association, and Anna Rosenberry, Finance Officer for the City of Bozeman, who drafted suggested language for a change in our laws not to severely impact the city through lowered valuation in the TIF. I spoke with the chief legal legislative counsel in the capitol and introduced legislation within a day to resolve the problem. Basically, the bill will add language in code to recognize that in the event of a disaster, and the subsequent devaluing of properties afterward, the base taxable value of the TIF will not suffer a drop. The devaluing of properties after a disaster is important, so that property owners don't pay the full property taxes on properties that no longer hold that value--that's fair. But the impact to the entire TIF district, which, in this case, is the Bozeman downtown district, is devastating. My bill will fix this discrepancy so that the district as a whole doesn't take the hit.

I've also been working just as hard to pass legislation. I'm sponsoring a cancer drug donation bill that received a great hearing Friday. (My technology TIF district bill did not receive as nice a reception Friday, unfortunately.) Next Friday, two more of my bills will be considered by the Senate, and I hope the newly-introduced TIF bill will be heard in my House Taxation committee soon.

Please know I'm completely dedicated to my city and to my state, and to everyone in Montana. We're all rallying. I just wanted to give you an update from my desk. --JP

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the Montana Legislature...

Friends, it's been a tough couple of weeks, but I and many others are soldiering on. Here's a taste of some of the activities at the Montana Legislature of late.

On March 11, Chairman Steele gave the State of the Indian Nations address. Here he is in the House chamber, with the magnificent Charlie Russell painting behind him.

On that day, Margie McDonald and Caroline Pease-Lopez, my seatmates, were matchy-matchy in the same jacket:




Wednesday, March 11, the Polynesian Dancers from Dillon, the Polynesian capitol of Montana, came to the House to dance. They did three numbers, and the men in particular were quite frightful (in a good way). I joked with my seatmates that there hadn't been bare-chested men in the House since last night!

In my House Natural Resources committee, our committee secretary, Shirley Chovanak (a last name as challenging as mine!) gave me a model smart car this past week! Seems almost everyone is as taken with my little smart as I am. See a resemblance? Here's my smart car at the capitol, and the model smart car on my desk. Maybe I should find a way to paint it red...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bozeman Explosion Investigation Findings

Cause of downtown Bozeman explosion announced; from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Friday, March 13, 2009

The natural gas leak that likely led to the explosion in downtown Bozeman last week was in a service line between the main gas line and the Montana Trails Gallery, investigators said Friday morning.

The service line is the responsibility of NorthWestern Energy, officials said.

The explosion killed one woman and destroyed numerous downtown Bozeman businesses.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wine Spectator magazine recognizes Boodles' loss

On the Wine Spectator website, here: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,4924,00.html

• The list of Wine Spectator Restaurant Award recipients is sadly one name shorter this week after a natural-gas explosion destroyed Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning restaurant Boodles in Bozeman, Mont., on March 5. The powerful blast took with it Boodles and its nearly 1,000-bottle inventory, as well as the Rocking R Bar, the Montana Trails art gallery and the American Legion club. An employee of Montana Trails was killed in the blast, and is presumed to have been the only one in the building at the time. Montana State Rep. JP Pomnichowski was on the scene within hours of the explosion and has been fast-tracking business loans and unemployment benefits for those affected. A fund has been established at First Security Bank in Bozeman for anyone wishing to make donations. A community fair-style benefit has been scheduled for March 28 at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, just 15 blocks from the site of the explosion. "The owners that I've reached have every intention of coming back better than they were," Pomnichowski said. "I still can't process that one of the best restaurants in Bozeman, Boodles, is gone."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Photo from March 5, Bozeman explosion four days ago









Lieutenant Colonel Morris of the Montana National Guard, (unknown), Governor Schweitzer, Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch (green jacket, back turned), and Montana State Representative JP Pomnichowski (D-Bozeman, right side) on the 200 block of Main Street in Bozeman Thursday, March 5, three hours and five minutes after the explosion and fire that leveled three buildings and consumed five businesses.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bozeman Explosion and Fire, 73 hours later

Bozeman is open for business.

Bozeman has suffered such a devastation in our beautiful historic downtown, but in three days' time, the city officials and fire department and police, our public works people, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, our citizen soldiers in the National Guard, my friends and neighbors, our wonderful businesses, and people across the state have rallied for Bozeman.


The force of the explosion on Thursday morning destroyed six businesses and structures immediately. The street is still filled with rubble: bricks, timbers, cinder blocks, metal beams, and shards of broken glass, glass everywhere. The fire still smolders, but the gas is finally off and the raging fire is over. We can concentrate on recovery and investigation now, and soon, on strengthening our businesses and center of commerce, our historic downtown business district that's a jewel in the state.


Day One: the initial blast happened around 8:12 a.m. and fire ignited immediately. The blast radius is about four blocks. Witnesses at city hall, two blocks away, said they saw the roof blow off the building and come crashing back down. A heavy steel door, bolted and on heavy hinges, was blown off the back of Boodles or the Rockin' R, across the back of the lot, across the alley, and lodged midway up the cinder block wall of the empty former Bozeman TV and Appliance building. That building was so rocked by the blast that the entire structure has shifted many inches off center, the ceilings and floors have buckled and cracked, and it is almost certainly not habitable anymore. Other buildings suffered broken windows, broken masonry, damaged signs and awnings and fixtures; vehicles in the street in front of the businesses and parked behind are utterly destroyed.

For many hours on Day One, firefighters fought a blaze fueled by an eight-inch natural gas main. NorthWestern Energy workers dug up the alley behind the site and on the eastern end of the block to try to stop the natural gas flow. They installed stoppage valves, but around 9:20 that night, more than twelve hours after the blast, the gas was still not off. It wasn't quelled until about 1:15 a.m., seventeen hours after the incident began.

The response to the scene was immediate, coordinated, and so professional; I'm proud to be a part of a community with such committed people. Through that night, National Guard members took posts securing the site, securing businesses, managing traffic and emergency vehicles and staging, and I am so grateful, too, for our own citizens at the ready at a moment's notice to help our fair city.

I was desperate to get to Bozeman from our state capitol as soon as I heard about the blast. I have friends on the Bozeman Fire Department and in all the city offices, and wanted to do all I can to help. My first questions were about how long our firefighters had been on the scene--it's exhausting work, and once on scene, a firefighter is reluctant to leave. When I served as a firefighter/EMT, I wouldn't leave a scene until everything was wrapped up, and this is a multi-service, multi-day scene. I was concerned for our sheriff's deputies and police officers, who'd responded immediately, sweeping for anyone injured, then securing the scene. I asked our public works officer how our water pressure was holding up: there were two five-inch fire lines and two ladder trucks pouring water on the fire, and many more 2 1/2" lines. It's estimated that 4.3 million gallons of water were put on the fire. The water mains were emptied so quickly that the drinking water in Bozeman, completely safe to drink, did take on a turbid quality, and our water operators added chlorine to the drinking water. In a situation like this, it's a mighty good thing we're a gravity-fed system.

I asked about air quality from our public safety nurse, Stephanie Nelson, and the city answered that they were measuring air quality. Later Thursday, when the wind changed and smoke began blowing more directly toward Hawthorne School, the school evacuated the kids to the Bozeman Public Library when the air intakes began sucking in that smoke. The next day, with the fire down to a smolder, the school was in session as per usual.

Going forward, I'll work to secure our economic strength. I'm working with the governor's office and the Small Business Association on some SBA loans, and workers displaced by the blast will be briefed on Tuesday at the Bozeman Job Service. For them, there will be expedited unemployment benefits, since we recognize that they won't be able to provide the usual documents required for filing. I'll bird-dog the federal recovery money and state infrastructure money to make sure we rebuild and strengthen our fair town. Know that I'll do all I can, always, for Bozeman and for our state.

Thanks, everyone. Rally. And--Go, Cats!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Go, 'Cats!


Tonight, the MSU Bobcats won a first-round victory over the hated UM Grizzlies 56-54 in Missoula in Big Sky Conference tournament play. Woo hoo! Go, 'Cats!

This is a nice bright spot in an otherwise very painful and surreal week. I've served on the Bobcat Stat Crew for 18 years (football; 15 years, basketball), and I'm so proud that this Cat-Griz went the way that all of them should go: with a Bobcat VICTORY!

The story from msubobcats.com:

Bobcat junior Will Bynum's steal and ensuing three-point play with six-seconds remaining paced MSU to a 56-54 win over Montana, Saturday night in Dahlberg Arena in opening round action of the Big Sky Tournament.

Where there is a Will, there is a way…

Montana State junior Will Bynum’s steal, layin and free throw with 6-seconds remaining sealed a 56-54 win over intra-state rival Montana, Saturday night in the opening round of the Big Sky Conference tournament in Dahlberg Arena.

Montana State (13-16) trailed 30-29 at intermission.

In the second stanza, the Bobcats opened up a 50-42 advantage with 6:28 left on a Bobby Howard trey and MSU staved off a late Montana (17-12) rally to advance to the Big Sky ‘Final Four’ in Ogden, Utah.

Bynum led the Bobcats with 15 points, while Divaldo Mbunga added nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Also contributing to the MSU attack were Eric Rush with ten rebounds and Howard with nine points.

For the game, Montana State controlled the boards notching a 40-29 rebounding advantage. The Bobcats also collected 18 offensive rebounds.

The Bobcats will travel to Weber State, where they will face No. 1 Weber State, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., in the Dee Events Center.
In the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting back to business

published on Saturday, March 7, 2009 11:38 PM MST

By JODI HAUSEN Chronicle Staff Writer

Emergency responders walked a tightrope Saturday, balancing fire suppression with the safety of searchers and investigators sifting through the debris from the natural-gas explosion that destroyed half a city block downtown Thursday.

One woman was still missing when search operations were shut down at dark for safety concerns, Bozeman Fire Chief Jason Shrauger said.

The source of the explosion is still unknown, he said.

Although there are six agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives trying to determine the cause of the blast, workers are concentrating on finding evidence of the missing woman.

“The cause of the incident is still under investigation,” Shrauger said. “But we’re focusing all our efforts on the recovery of the missing person.”

Authorities are still not releasing the missing woman’s name.

“We are still in the middle of our investigation,” Assistant City Manager Chuck Winn said Saturday. “Until we’ve reached any conclusions, it would be inappropriate for us to comment. We are sharing everything that’s appropriate to share.”

Retrieving precious belongings

The explosion in the 200 block of East Main Street sparked a fire and flattened the Montana Trails Gallery, LillyLu and Montana Ballet Company and Boodles. It also caused significant damage to the Rocking R Bar, Pickle Barrel, American Legion Hall, Rocky Mountain Rug Gallery and Starky’s Authentic Delicatessen.

As the investigation continued Saturday morning, Gallatin County sheriff’s deputies, Montana Highway Patrol troopers, city police officers and firefighters escorted business owners and residents into buildings closest to the blast.

One of those residents was Sean Lehmann, a professional musician who lived above Starky’s. Lehmann was not at home at the time of the blast, but his roommate was. The roommate was awakened that morning when a 2-by-4 crashed through the skylight and landed on him. He ran from the building.

On Saturday, the group of residents and business owners on the street broke into applause when they saw Shrauger emerge from a building carrying Lehmann’s stand-up and electric basses.

Lehmann had been able to recover a couple of other instruments earlier but said that in looking at photographs of his apartment taken by firefighters, it was clear his roommate’s saxophones had been buried under rubble.

Shasta Grenier and Jason Lubke, award-winning directors of the film “Class C, the only game in town,” also live in the second-story apartments. They were able to retrieve a majority of footage for a current project, along with cameras and editing gear that was in their apartment Saturday morning.

And although Grenier was pleased, she was circumspect.

“My thoughts are just with everybody who lost so much more,” she said.

Mollie McKiernan, who lives in an apartment on Mendenhall Street just behind the blast, was also downtown Saturday. After 24 hours of anxiety over the status of her cats, she was escorted into her home Friday and found them unharmed.

“My situation pales compared to what’s going on with these people,” she said.

Relatively untouched

Meanwhile some of business owners just east of the Legion hall were amazed to find little or no damage to their buildings or merchandise.

Bert Hopeman, who owns Montana Gift Corral, said his is the second-oldest building in Bozeman. Structures six blocks away had sustained more significant damage than his, he said.

“I can’t believe this,” he said, looking around his nearly unscathed shop. “There are 24,600 items in this store. We could have had one hell of a mess.

“It’s wild how it differed from building to building,” he said.

Les Gunderson, general manager of the gift store, said she’s ready to open as soon as authorities will allow.

“We’re opening five minutes after they give us the go-ahead,” Gunderson said.

Tim and Beverly Christiansen, who own Vino per tutti, next door, were amazed to find not a single bottle of wine had been damaged.

They are hoping authorities will allow pedestrians onto the block Monday.

“I feel very fortunate that we’re coming out of this so unscathed,” Tim Christiansen said.

Although the wine store has electricity, the gas and heat will be off until the fire operations are complete, which means Monday could be a chilly day in the wine store.

“It may be cold but we’ll just pretend it’s a big wine cellar,” he said.

In explaining why some businesses nearly adjacent to the blast site seemed almost untouched compared to others blocks away, structural engineer Matt Miller said the damage was caused by the concussion from the blast’s shock wave which ricocheted off the brick and glass of historic downtown structures.

A window in his own office at Willson Avenue and Babcock Street sustained a significant crack, he said.

Miller taped a fluorescent yellow sign to the intact window on Montana Gift Corral’s front door. The sign, like those on many doors on both sides of the block, indicated that the building had been inspected and was structurally sound.

Seeing for themselves

As firefighters continued to fight the still-burning fire in the rubble, people gawked from newly reopened side streets and from store windows on the south side of Main Street.

HomePage Café owner Bruce Muller served up coffee, pastries and sandwiches Saturday afternoon to patrons who had entered his business from the alley south of Main Street.

Business was somewhat brisker than a typical Saturday, Muller said, attributing it to people wanting to see the blast site and support downtown businesses.

“There’s a lot of sympathy for the businesses downtown,” he said. “People are tipping more than usual. There’s general concern and relief. To get things open again, it’s beginning to get better even though it’s early.”

“You can see how it’s brought the community together,” his wife and co-owner Frankee Muller said. “The community has done like this,” she said, meshing the fingers of both hands together.

National Guard called off

By noon Saturday, the Montana National Guard wrapped up its work keeping downtown safe. The “exclusion zone” around the blast site had been reduced to less than a full city block.

The Guard unit went from nine checkpoints, to seven to two before packing up.

Capt. Russ Cunningham, who recently returned from serving in Afghanistan, said the unit was happy to help out.

“It’s not often that we get to help out in our own community,” he said.

Bozeman Explosion and Fire, 61 hours later

After the floor session in the Montana Legislature this morning, I drove home to Bozeman and went straight downtown. The Bozeman Police Department has the scene of the terrible explosion and fire taped off and secured, but the fire still smolders--it will for days.

Amazingly, the very day of the blast, city officials were escorting business owners into their stores and restaurants, and businesses are open all around the site. The stores have been inspected and have certificates of exterior and interior inspection posted clearly on their windows.

Downtown was quiet in late afternoon today. The people downtown walked down the closed Main Street (just at the 200 block) to see the site of the explosion.

I am amazed and honored that our city building inspectors and city officials have responded so very quickly to keep our precious center of commerce operating.

We have had National Guard troops helping us for two days, and they returned home today. Bozeman Police are securing the site, and for all the firefighters, police, city workers, National Guard troops, everyone, the businesses have posted signs of thanks and offers of free vittles for the workers. There have been innumerable offers of help: food, shelter, people, resources. This is the town that's Bozeman.

The site is smoldering and a recovery and investigation effort is underway. For the blast radius of a block or so, no one is allowed in. There is glass and building material and debris on the street and on the roofs and in the trees of the blocks and businesses surrounding the site. Part of the facade of the Rockin' R remains, as does part of the American Legion building, but the debris on site is in a deep and high pile with a daunting layer of ice on the cars, street, utility lines, and detritus.

The weather on Thursday was bad. There were six inches of heavy icy snow on the street and sidewalks, which kept a lot of people from getting to work on time. There's precious little that's a blessing about this, but the fact that no more than one person remains unaccounted for, and no one was injured in the blast or in the emergency response, is simply amazing. The potential for a much more dire outcome was great.

Today, temperatures in the morning were downright crisp: around 8 degrees, in Bozeman and in Helena. After the morning floor session of the House of Representatives, I drove home. By that time, early afternoon, it was in the mid-30s, so the street and scene melted off a bit. There's subzero weather coming in the next day or so.

The perimeters around the scene have been progressively moved back toward the block, and people can access businesses and patronize the downtown, and they will. There have already been great efforts to remove materials from the surrounding area. I know there's frustration for a few businesses that have much more to do to recover; people want to get into buildings and recover what they can, but it's been just 61 hours since the blast, the fire's still burning, structures are compromised, and it isn't safe.

Bozeman, Gallatin County, Bozeman Fire Department and fire districts all around the area, our National Guard, our state agencies, and federal forces are coordinated in a continuing response. I've been in close contact with the governor's office since the day of the blast, and for displaced workers, there will be accelerated unemployment benefits and easier applications; we recognize people won't have pay stubs to present because many of these businesses don't have their computers or records anymore.

The state and Small Business Administration are working toward expedited loans. Businesses who have unreimbursed, uninsured losses can apply for low-interest loans, no higher than 4% interest rate; I'll know more about how many businesses will form that group, what the term and benefits of the loans will be, next week. Be assured I'll stay at the front of this to make sure we recover well, with all the resources we need at the ready.