EPeak Daily

Texas passes $1.7 billion for flood tasks

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The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. Eight to Could 27. From the state finances to well being care to training coverage — and the politics behind all of it — we give attention to what Texans have to know concerning the biennial legislative session.

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With the beginning of hurricane season looming, Texas lawmakers have despatched laws to Gov. Greg Abbott that will draw $1.7 billion from the state’s wet day fund to assist pay for flood management tasks and repairs throughout the state.

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Though a previous model of Senate Invoice 7 would have appropriated greater than $three billion from the state’s financial savings account, that determine modified as lawmakers negotiated over finances proposals. SB 7 comes almost two years after Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas with report rainfall. The laws is a part of a trio of catastrophe aid payments that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recognized as a precedence this legislative session.

Authored by state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and sponsored by state Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, the laws establishes two funds that would supply grants and loans for flood management and mitigation tasks. Home Joint Decision 4, already signed within the Home and the Senate, would amend the Texas Structure to create the Flood Infrastructure Fund – one of many funds outlined in SB 7.

The proposal created in HJR Four shall be put to Texas voters within the November 2019 election: “The constitutional modification offering for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to help within the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood management tasks.”

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A second fund, the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund (TIRF) can be made up of 4 accounts, every with a particular goal. One, the Federal Matching Account, would use state cash to assist native communities with matching funds wanted for tasks eligible for partial federal funding. One other, the Hurricane Harvey Account, would assist deliver down federal {dollars} for flood tasks associated to that exact storm.

“This laws is essential for making a extra resilient Texas,” Phelan mentioned in a press release Friday, calling SB 7 and HJR 4 “historic payments.” Phelan additionally mentioned that Texas’ inhabitants progress implies that the affect of flooding occasions will proceed to extend statewide.

Final week, Creighton celebrated the passage of SB 7 and, like Phelan, mentioned it might make Texas higher ready for future storms.

Practically $three million can be transferred into one of many TIRF accounts from an current fund, the Floodplain Administration Fund No. 330, in accordance with SB 7’s fiscal observe. Simply over $three million would even be deposited into that account every fiscal yr from insurance coverage upkeep taxes.

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Greater than half of the funds appropriated from the state’s large financial savings account can be funneled to the Texas Water Growth Board to develop and fund tasks below the Texas State Flood Plan, created by Senate Invoice 8. That piece of laws, authored by state Sen. Charles Perry, a Lubbock Republican, would arrange the state’s first flood plan.

The Senate agreed to Home amendments to SB Eight on Friday. Modeled in a format just like the water improvement board’s State Water Plan, the state flood plan would give representatives from every of the state flood planning areas the power to craft a plan and submit it to the board for consideration right into a grasp plan.

As this yr’s legislative session started, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner pressed state lawmakers to faucet the state’s wet day fund. A spokesman for Turner’s workplace mentioned Friday the state ought to help native spending as a result of “the choice for the town of Houston can be to boost native revenues.”

In January, Turner and Harris County Decide Lina Hidalgo wrote to Abbott, Patrick and Home Speaker Dennis Bonnen to say that native governments “have stretched their budgets to the restrict,” and to petition the state to attract from the wet day fund. In that letter, Turner and Hidalgo recognized states from Florida to Colorado which have offered not less than a portion of match {dollars} wanted to take part within the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Administration Company to institute hazard mitigation measures throughout the US.

At this time, the Senate additionally adopted the convention committee report on Senate Invoice 6, authored by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham — the third of the catastrophe aid payments. SB 6 would require the Texas Division of Emergency Administration to determine guides for native officers on each catastrophe response and restoration, in addition to how one can handle particles elimination.

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