Phelan flood fund proposal to appear as Proposition 8

Published 12:10 am Friday, July 26, 2019

AUSTIN — A House Joint Resolution by State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, to create a state Flood Infrastructure Fund will appear on the Nov. 5 state ballot as Proposition 8.

Phelan spokeswoman Lauren Lumsden said the Secretary of State’s office conducted a drawing Wednesday to determine the order of the proposed constitutional amendments that will appear on ballot. Of the 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, Phelan’s House Joint Resolution 4 will appear as Proposition 8.

In order for a proposed amendment to be on the ballot, it must have been approved by at least two-thirds of the members of both the Texas Senate and the Texas House of Representatives during the 86th legislative session. Proposition 8 proposes a constitutional amendment to the Texas Constitution that, if approved, would create the Flood Infrastructure Fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation and flood control projects across Texas, Lumsden said.

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Phelan said during the session that his legislation would encourage governments to respond to floods, such as the 2017 Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, in ways that would be comprehensive. His legislation applied to the entire state, not just the coastal region.

The FIF would allow loans at or below market rate to assist in basic flood project preparation, the extensive grant and application process at all levels of government and the engineering of structural or nonstructural flood mitigation.

Lumsden also said the fund would be administered and applications approved by the Texas Water Development Board. The FIF is created as a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund.

The FIF would also offer grants to provide the necessary matching funds for local subdivisions to participate in various federal funding programs. After many major flooding events, there are federal monies appropriated to the state for mitigation projects and Community Development Block Grants; however; when counties and cities are required to provide up to 35 percent of projects total, most are left without an opportunity to participate. The cycle then continues with little to no progress on flood mitigation.

Under the FIF, projects would be eligible for funding predicated upon the TWDB determining all local entities in the region:

  • Have fully cooperated and substantially participated in the process of developing the projects
  • Have held public meetings to accept comments from interested parties
  • And the projects have been completely engineered and scored against one another.

The projects ultimately funded by the FIF would be multijurisdictional and also multi-generational. If Proposition 8 is approved by voters, the FIF would be created at the start of next year.

Lumsden said Phelan would travel the state before November to encourage widespread support for his legislation.

Phelan, represents House District 21, which includes Jefferson and Orange counties.

Special to The News