Harvey Legislature Moving Out

This week marks the halfway point of the 86th Legislative Session. Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast more than a year and a half ago. Hundreds of thousands in Houston were impacted with the loss of vehicles, homes and prized irreplaceable possessions.

The Texas Senate unanimously passed a trio of key Harvey bills that I joint-authored, which are designed to help communities to recover and prepare for the next natural disaster. This legislative package utilizes $1.8 billion from Rainy Day Fund. Below is a breakdown of Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8:

SB 6 seeks to keep county and city leaders informed on the best practices for disaster response.

SB 7 would create a special fund to pay for flood mitigation projects, hurricane recovery and provide matching funds to pull down federal dollars.

SB 8 is aimed at creating the first statewide flood plan.

In addition, I worked with the Texas General Land Office during the Harvey recovery and discussed the needs of our community. This week, we moved two key bills out of Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee. These bills are recommendations from the General Land Office’s “Hurricane Harvey: Texas at Risk” report.

SB 285 would require the distribution of hurricane preparedness and assistance information before hurricane season. This ensures all governments, agencies and jurisdictions receive the necessary information so that the public can prepare their property and communities.

SB 300 would allow the General Land Office to bid out contracts before hurricane season for necessary services after a natural disaster. During Harvey recovery efforts, our region faced a complex tangle of federal and other regulations which slowed response times and led to inefficient recovery measures. For example, because there were insufficient pre-hurricane contracts, many trash-disposal contractors left Houston in the days after Harvey for better pay cleaning up Hurricane Irma in Florida.

SB 300 instructs the General Land Office to enter into indefinite quantity contracts with vendors before hurricane season to construct, repair, or rebuild property or infrastructure if a natural disaster occurs. In turn, this will help the state respond faster and more efficiently to the next hurricane.

SB 285 and SB 300 were voted favorably out of committee and will be considered to the full Senate. These bills are just the first step to ensure that our state fully recovers from Harvey and make reforms based on what we learned. Harvey taught us where we have loopholes and where we are vulnerable in our state.

I am proud to work with my colleagues to find resolutions to these problems. As the 86th Legislative Session continues, I will continue to fight for our needs in our community. I am humbled to be your senator and lead the charge for you. Thank you. Keep the Faith, Keep the Fight!