Governor of Texas Signs Comprehensive Disaster Planning Bills, Extends Plumbing Licensing Board Through Exec Order

June 13, 2019

 

Governor Greg Abbott signing disaster relief bills on Thursday at Jim MacInvale’s Gallery Furniture in Houston with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, right

 

Adding to recent federal money released to the state of Texas for disaster relief, Texas now has new storm and flood preparation plans — and a $1.6 billion for prep and infrastructure  — signed into law on Thursday by Governor Greg Abbott.

Abbott signed HB 5, HB 7, SB 6 and SB 7, which together provide disaster training, debris pickup plans and the cash for disaster resilience planning and building.

Using his emergency powers under Hurricane Harvey disaster declarations, Gov. Abbott also issued an executive order extending the life of the state Plumbing License Law until May 31st, 2021, which coincides with the closing of the next legislative session.

The act effectively extends the life of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, which was set to close down under state Sunset laws on September 1st because the legislature was unable to agree on changes to the board recommended by the Sunset Commission.

The Plumbing Examiners board issues licenses for plumbers, and its closing caused rancor among plumbers and others over the loss of licensing.

Gov. Abbott’s executive order is based on the disaster-related need for licensed, expert plumbers for Harvey repairs.

He came to Houston for the signing of disaster relief bils, where Hurricane Harvey caused 68 deaths and more than $125 million in damage over a-year-and-a-half-ago, stating that the legislation will mitigate damage from future storms.

President Donald Trump last week signed a $19 billion disaster relief bill sending money to Texas for Harvey repairs and cleanup.

HB 7, effective September 1st, tasks the governor’s office with disaster preparation, including coming up with a list of laws and rules that could be suspended during a disaster such as a hurricane.

SB 6, effective September 1st, calls for coordination among several agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, to provide emergency preparedness training in consultation with the TCEQ and the state comptroller’s office.

Debris management plans are also required by the bill, as is the development of a single “intake” form to provide relief, to be filled out by Texans impacted by disasters.

SB 7 creates the flood infrastructure fund outside the general revenue fund.

The governor also signed House Bill 5 calling on the Texas Division of Emergency Management to come up with a management plan for removal of debris following disasters.