18 September 2017

Legislature Studies Harvey’s Fallout

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas House recently released the first round of interim charges to address the devastation many Texas communities are facing.

While the state has taken a number of actions to help provide immediate assistance, the Legislature will most certainly have a substantial role to play in the recovery efforts. Furthermore, we must do all we can at the state level to examine how we confront natural disasters and make certain that our efforts and resources are utilized in both a responsible and effective manner.

In the months to follow, various committees will convene to listen to public input, examine solutions and recommend action that the House should take in the upcoming session to ensure the safety and stability of those areas most affected by this destructive disaster. As such, I want to use this column to highlight two committees I will serve on, and provide some insight as to what these committees will seek to accomplish.

Appropriations: The House Committee on Appropriations has been tasked with examining the use of state and federal funds by state agencies responding to the effects of Harvey and identifying opportunities to maximize the use of these funds to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.

The responsible use of federal funds is crucial to the recovery process, as it will help reduce the financial responsibility of the state. Carefully managing federal funds not only allows us to continue focusing our limited resources on the fundamental services provided by the state, but also provides an opportunity to utilize additional dollars to invest in prevention.

Further, this committee will examine opportunities for state investment in infrastructure projects that might help reduce the devastation that could ensue from future disasters.

As a third-term member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am confident in this committee’s ability to produce thoughtful and creative solutions to the most difficult challenges. In the months to follow, I look forward to working with my colleagues on a solutions-based approach toward recovery.

Natural Resources: The House Committee on Natural Resources has been charged with examining possible solutions to the extraordinary flooding that was experienced in so many areas of our state. In the next several weeks, we will have our first committee meeting to discuss the role of regional entities in developing projects to control flooding, both through new infrastructure and enhancing existing assets.

Additionally, the committee will discuss flood mitigation efforts that would reduce the impact of future flood events and strategies to fund those efforts.

Finally, the committee has been tasked with examining dams and reservoir operations during such events, and the coordination efforts between state and local emergency management officials.

While we certainly have our work cut out for us, I’m pleased that the Texas House has taken such an immediate and proactive approach toward helping our fellow Texans, whose lives have been upended by this tragic natural disaster.

Rest assured that as we discuss and deliberate possible solutions, our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with all those affected, and with the brave men and women who have answered the call for help within our coastal region.

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