The House and Senate passed a total of 53 bills and 2 joint resolutions relating to disaster preparedness, response and recovery. On 4/11 alone the House passed out 16 bills relating to disaster response. On 3/6, the Senate rolled out three key bills as a disaster response package: SB 8 (Perry) creating the first statewide flood plan, SB 6 (Kolkhorst) best practices for disaster response, SB 7 (Creighton) creation of a fund to pay for flood mitigation projects. In addition to the $1.8 billion to fund the filed bills, additional funding was sought to pay back recovery and response costs incurred by local and state agencies during the last year and a half. Some of that money would also go towards school districts to cover tax revenue lost due to the devaluation of property from storm damage. Among other things the bills sweeping changes include:

  • Establishes the Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas as a component of A&M; established the Flood Event Partnership Options Special Study Committee.
  • Transfers the administration of TDEM from DPS to Texas A&M
  • Creates the business advisory council to advise TDEM on disaster response matters.
  • Requires TDEM to develop
    • A catastrophic debris management plan and model guide
    • A disaster recovery task force
    • A plan to assist in disaster relief contracts.
    • And maintain an electronic disaster case management system.
    • A workgroup to study and develop a proposal for enhancing training and credentialing of emergency management personnel.
  • Establishes framework to address price gouging during times of emergency.
  • Creates the flood infrastructure fund and provides the framework for a state flood plan
  • Requires HHSC to coordinate with county judges to more rapidly deploy SNAP benefits after a natural disaster.

See below for a further breakdown on some of the bills as they passed out of both chambers.

SB 6 (Kolkhorst/Morrison) establishes catastrophic debris management plan and training, a disaster response guide, a wet debris study group, emergency management work group, a disaster recovery loan program. This bill was sent to the Governor on 5/28.

HB 5 (Phelan/Kolkhorst), which has language similar to SB 6, relating to debris management and other disaster recovery efforts was sent to the Governor on 5/28. The bill requires the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to develop a debris management plan and it sets out other provisions related to disaster recovery efforts.

SB 7(Creighton/Phelan) relating to flood control planning and the funding of flood planning, mitigation, and infrastructure projects was sent to the Governor on 5/25. The bill would amend the Water Code to establish two new accounts, the Flood Infrastructure Fund and the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund, and to broaden the type of contracts that can be funded through the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) Research and Planning program within the Texas Water Assistance Program to include work related to planning for flood protection.

SB 8 (Perry/Larson) Relating to state and regional flood planning was sent to the Governor on 5/26. The bill provides a framework for a state flood plan through a network of regional flood planning groups, similar to the regional water supply planning process. The House added an amendment that requires a report of the repair and maintenance needs of all dams that meet certain requirements.

HB 6 (Morrison/Kolkhorst) Relating to the Texas Division of Emergency Management developing a disaster recovery task force to assist with long-term disaster recovery was sent to the Governor on 5/29.

HB 7 (Morrison/Huffman) Relating to disaster preparation for state agencies and political subdivisions was sent to the governor on 05/24. The bill requires the Office of the Governor to compile a list of statutes and rules that may require suspension during a disaster. The bill also required TDEM to develop a plan to assist political subdivision with executing contracts for services commonly needed after a disaster.

HB 137 (Hinojosa/Perry) Relating to reports by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about dams that have certain hazard classifications was sent to the Governor 5/24.

SB 799 (Alvarado/Murphy) Relating to the creation of a business advisory council to provide advice on economic recovery following a disaster was sent to the Governor on 5/28.

HB 26 (Metcalf/Nichols) relating to the notification of affected persons of certain releases of water from certain dams was sent to the Governor on 5/29. The bill amends the Water Code to require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to notify affected persons of water releases from dams during a natural disaster.

HB 492/HJR 34 (Shine/Bettencourt) proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary local option exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster was sent to the Governor on 5/29. The bill is the enabling legislation for HJR 34, which allows for income-producing personal property and improvements to real property to qualify for a property tax exemption.

HB 2320 (Paul/Taylor) Relating to services provided during and following a disaster was signed by the Governor on 5/29 and becomes effective on 9/1. The language adopts the following recommendations from the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas: continue to cultivate relationships with private technology providers to coordinate their assistance in the early days of a disaster when communications systems are damaged or destroyed; investigate ways to improve the hardening of utilities and facilities; improve oversight, accountability, and availability of individuals in the building trades offering services to disaster survivors; and increase utility customers’ awareness of utility payment relief programs.

SB 563 (Perry/Metcalf) Relating to the reporting of information about the use of federal money for flood research, planning, and mitigation projects was sent to the Governor on 5/25.