HBA-MSH H.B. 2618 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2618 By: Gray Public Safety 3/23/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In 2000, there were 96 fatalities, 146 injuries, and $925 million in property and crop damage in Texas due to severe weather. There have been 51 major natural disasters declared in Texas between 1972 and 2000, more than any other state. Declared disasters are eligible for federal assistance. However, many other disasters occur in Texas that do not qualify for federal aid, and the costs of these disasters are borne by local governments and individuals. In many of these undeclared disasters, the governor does not have the authority to make grants to local government and individuals. House Bill 2618 expands the governor's authority to make grants to local governments and individuals during a disaster and creates the disaster management fund. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 2618 amends the Government Code relating to provisions in the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The bill authorizes the governor to request federal assistance to save lives, protect property, preserve the public health and safety, lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe, supplement the efforts of available resources of the state, the affected local government, and organized volunteer groups, and to provide compensation for uninsured disaster-related losses for situations that the governor determines are beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected political subdivision. The bill removes provisions relating to the authority of the governor to determine the amount needed by a local government to restore its governmental functions before applying to the federal government for assistance and authorizing the governor to recommend to the federal government cancellation of all or part of repayment under certain conditions (Sec. 418.021). The bill authorizes the governor to make grants to meet disaster-related necessary expenses or other serious needs of individuals or families adversely affected by a disaster that is not declared by the president of the United States or a disaster that is declared by the president of the United States but in which individual or family assistance is not granted (undeclared disaster) and in which the governor determines that disaster relief will not be sufficient to address serious needs of the victims of the disaster. The bill limits such grants to financial assistance for housing repairs, repair or replacement of personal property, transportation expenses, and funeral, dental, medical, and other analogous expenses considered necessary to meet a serious need, and limits the amount of a grant to $5,000 per individual or family (Sec. 418.022). In an undeclared disaster, the bill authorizes the governor to provide funds to a political subdivision for expenses incurred in the clearance, removal, and disposal of debris and, if no other means of financial assistance are available, for expenses incurred for the repair or replacement of a damaged highway or street or water control structure (Secs. 418.023 and 418.0231). In an undeclared disaster or a disaster that is declared but in which hazard mitigation assistance is not granted, the bill authorizes the governor to provide funds not to exceed 50 percent of the cost of hazard mitigation measures that are determined by the governor to be cost-effective, and substantially reduce the risk of future damage, loss, or suffering in an area affected by the disaster (Sec. 418.0232). The bill abolishes the disaster contingency fund and creates the disaster management fund (fund) (Sec. 418.073 and SECTION 9). The bill provides that the fund is a trust fund established in and required to be administered by the Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company. The bill authorizes the governor to make funds available from the fund to provide money for emergency management and disaster relief programs where the costs exceed the funds regularly appropriated to state and local agencies (Sec. 418.073). The bill sets forth limits on the use of the fund for administrative expenses, emergency management training costs, and the implementation of statewide notification systems or services. The bill authorizes the governor to use money in the fund for expenses incurred in implementation of mutual aid assistance (Sec. 418.0731). EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.