AUSTIN, Texas -- State Representative Geanie Morrison passed two more critical bills today to ensure the State of Texas is better prepared to respond to future disasters. After passing two bills last week, HB 6 and HB 2305, from recommendations made by the Governor's Commission to Rebuild Texas, Rep. Morrison passed two more recommendations with HB 7 and HB 2794 that will help streamline emergency management in Texas.
HB 7 would help state agencies and local jurisdictions eliminate administrative red tape that slows down effective emergency management functions. HB 2794 would codify the integration of the Texas Division of Emergency Management into the Texas A&M University System that has already begun with the memorandum of understanding announced by the Governor in December 2018. This unification will help simplify coordination and provide a more focused and consistent approach to emergency management.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas House made it clear we were going to take the lessons we learned from the storm and use this session to strengthen emergency management in Texas," said Rep. Morrison. "With the passage of todays bills, and those we passed last week, the Texas House has made sure those lessons have been used to better prepare Texas for future disasters."
“I applaud Representative Morrison for leading the charge on these critical pieces of legislation – her unwavering commitment to better preparing our state for future disasters will undoubtedly save lives,” said Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen. “This legislation applies the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey to improve response and recovery in all future disasters, while also providing support to those affected. Texans have undergone enormous challenges in the months since Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast. But even in the face of our state’s greatest disaster, they remained resilient. Thanks to Rep. Morrison, we now have the resources to match.”
Emergency Management Bills Authored By Rep. Morrison this Session:
• House Bill 6 - Specialized Assistance for Individuals and Communities
Recovery efforts were identified as the weakest phase of the emergency management cycle in Texas. House Bill 6 would task TDEM with developing a Disaster Recovery Task Force to provide specialized assistance to support those with financial issues as well as federal assistance programs. The Task Force would also focus on recovery and resiliency planning to streamline and expedite recovery at the local level. The Task Force would operate from the beginning of a disaster through the long-term recovery period which would provide significant support for smaller communities. The mission of the Task Force is to strengthen recovery functions while utilizing resources of institutions of higher education, state agencies and organized volunteer groups.
• House Bill 7 - Emergency Management Preparation
HB 7 would help state agencies and local jurisdictions eliminate administrative red tape that slows down effective emergency management functions. This includes maintaining a standing list of regulatory waivers needed during a disaster, compiling statutes or rules that must be suspended during an emergency, and working out partnership agreements and contracted services before disaster strikes. This will allow our communities and families to access much timelier assistance.
• House Bill 2305 - Emergency Management Work Group
During Hurricane Harvey, some communities displayed sophistication in their response and recovery functions and were staffed with full-time, well-trained emergency personnel. But many communities were not as well prepared due to insufficient resources, planning, or training. HB 2305 directs TDEM to establish a work group to study and propose an emergency management training framework that can be implemented locally regardless of the size of the community. The work group should consider the training and credentials needed to ensure that elected and appointed officials charged with overseeing response and recovery efforts in a community have the requisite training and credentials to do so effectively.
• House Bill 2794 - Integration of the Texas Division of Emergency Management
The Governor's "Eye of the Storm" Rebuild Texas report noted that emergency management in Texas was fragmented among federal, state, and local agencies and jurisdictions. This fragmentation presented ample opportunity for inefficient use of resources and the commission recommended integrating TDEM within the Texas A&M University System, which already performs extensive emergency management functions. The Governor announced in December 2018 that integration would begin immediately with a memorandum of understanding under the leadership of Chief Nim Kidd who would then operate within the Texas A&M System. HB 2794 codifies this transition that has already begun with the current memorandum of understanding in place. This unification will help simplify coordination and provide a more focused and consistent approach to emergency management.
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