Gov. Greg Abbott hosted a bill signing ceremony last week related to disaster relief and preparedness alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, members of the Texas Legislature and emergency management officials. The signing ceremony was held at Gallery Furniture in Houston, owned by Jim McIngvale, also known as “Mattress Mack.” When Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, McIngvale opened two of his stores as shelters for Houstonians displaced by the storm.

“This bill signing ceremony was personal because every county in my senate district was declared a federal disaster area from Harvey,” said Kolkhorst. “Homes, businesses, and entire families were devastated, but the Texas spirit to recover and rebuild has been inspiring. I appreciate working with Rep. Geanie Morrison to pass these important pieces of legislation. While she could not attend the signing ceremony, she was a champion for the efforts to recover.”

Gov. Abbott signed the following bills:

• House Bill 5 authored by Rep. Dade Phelan and sponsored by Kolkhorst requires the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to develop a catastrophic debris management plan and training and establishes a work group to make recommendations about how local governments and property owners’ associations can assist with recovery efforts. It also requires TDEM to develop a model contract for debris removal.

• Senate Bill 6 authored by Kolkhorst and sponsored by Morrison requires TDEM to develop a disaster response model guide and a wet debris study group for local communities. It also creates a disaster recovery loan program within TDEM for communities that suffered significant infrastructure damage.

• Senate Bill 7 co-authored by Kolkhorst and sponsored by Phelan establishes the framework for providing a total of $1.6 billion through the Texas Infrastructure Resilience Fund (TIRF) as matching funds available to those communities hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, and through the Flood Infrastructure Fund for statewide infrastructure projects to mitigate future flooding events.

“After the storm, I drove many thousands of miles for months visiting the ravaged communities,” said Kolkhorst. “Survivors and victims of Harvey must never be forgotten and the best way to pay tribute to them is to unite as Texans helping other Texans, and creating an action plan for the next disaster. To protect our state against future natural disasters, I was proud to pass these important pieces of legislation.”

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