Texas Senate leaders unveil $1.8 billion package of disaster relief bills
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Tribune) - More than a year and a half after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the state, Texas Senate leaders announced a $1.8 billion trio of disaster relief bills on Wednesday that they said would create "a roadmap to prepare our state for future hurricanes and natural disasters."
The legislation — Senate Bill 6, Senate Bill 7 and Senate Bill 8 — would require the Texas Department of Emergency Management to create a disaster response plan for local officials, direct the state's water planning agency to devise a statewide flood plan and create a "resiliency fund" to support flood projects.
Flanked by senators who represent Harvey-impacted districts, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick acknowledged at a Capitol news conference that storm-ravaged communities have been waiting for a long time to see what the state might do to help them recover. But Patrick and the senators who authored the bills emphasized in their Wednesday remarks that the result was the product of "a lot of thought and input" and is the best possible outcome.
"We said at the time [of the storm] we would dedicate ourselves to helping people rebuild their homes, their businesses, their communities and do all we could to mitigate," Patrick said.
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, who authored SB 6, was more pointed.
"I want to say to the victims of Hurricane Harvey: We heard you," Kolkhorst said at the end of her remarks. "We’re with you. We’re not going to leave you. We’ve got your back."
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