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Newsletter: Harvey Hearings Begin

The state's role in Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts will be a priority issue in the next legislative session. And in order to get it right, the work has already begun. Last week, several House committees held hearings to look at how the Legislature can best help our fellow Texans affected by this tragic storm.

The House Appropriations and Urban Affairs committees held public meetings at the University of Houston to hear reports on the recovery to date and discuss what to expect in the future. Also last week in Houston, the House Natural Resources Committee heard testimony from local officials, experts, and the public about the need for more comprehensive, coordinated flood-control planning and ways to improve flood infrastructure. In fact, earlier this year, the Legislature allotted $600,000 for the Texas Water Development Fund to develop the first state flood plan, and that process is underway. The committee also examined how state and federal agencies manage reservoirs during storms.

This week, the House Public Education Committee will meet to begin determining the scope of financial losses to public schools as a result of the hurricane. Because schools' funding is tied to the number of students they enroll, and because the storm caused many families to move to new schools, my office and many of my House colleagues have expressed to the Commissioner of Education that schools should not be punished financially for Harvey-related decreases in enrollment.

Hurricane recovery will continue to be a major focus for the Texas House leading up to the start of our next session in January 2019. Just as Texans helped each other in those desperate hours following the storm's arrival, the House will work together to address the many challenges our state now faces.