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Rep. Metcalf, Will

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Metcalf Kicks Off Bill Filing with Harvey Legislation  print page

by: Rep. Metcalf, Will
11/12/2018

AUSTIN – State Representative Will Metcalf (Conroe) began the first day of bill filing for the 86th Legislative Session with three bills that came out of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Texas Coast in August of 2017. Metcalf explained, "I felt it was vital that I hit the ground running in the next Legislative Session and propose real solutions to very real problems that hit our area last year with Hurricane Harvey. We came out of Harvey stronger than before, but we must learn the lessons from the storm and begin adapting before the next crisis."

House Bill 26 would establish a warning system for all major dam operators across the state. This warning system would be activated by a dam operator when a release of water is necessary but may cause flooding or loss of life or property down stream. The warnings would be sent out via text messaging, television, radio, social media, other websites, and any other available means. "During different disaster scenarios, there have been releases from dams with little to no warning for residents, property owners, and businesses down stream," said Metcalf. "We have all seen the results. We have to do a better job in the future of providing warning and notice to residents and businesses so that they have a chance to save valuable property or even their very lives."

House Bill 33 would allow all counties within the San Jacinto River Authority to make recommendations to the Governor's Office concerning appointments for vacant board positions. Counties wholly within the boundaries of SJRA, which is only Montgomery County, would get to make two recommendations, while counties partially covered by SJRA would get to make one recommendation each. The Governor is responsible for appointing board members for the state's river authorities, which cover multiple jurisdictions and set water policy for large portions of the state. Under current law, there is no official process for local officials to make their preferences known when these appointments are being made. "After Harvey and in light of the controversy surrounding some of SJRA's decisions in recent years, I wanted to give local officials a voice in the appointment process." Metcalf went on, "I am in no way interfering with the Governor's appointment authority. As the state's top executive responsible for overseeing policy implementation at a statewide level, the final decision is his and his alone, but I wanted to give local officials an outlet to make recommendations to the Governor to hopefully inform that final decision."

Finally, House Bill 41 would allow state employees who volunteer in search and rescue efforts during emergencies to be given leave time for those activities. Under current law, state employees who also act as volunteer medical personnel and volunteer firefighters during an emergency are granted leave time in order to attend training and respond to emergencies. HB ____ would add search and rescue volunteers. "This particular piece of legislation was brought to my office by a constituent who is both a state employee and a search and rescue volunteer," said Metcalf. "Under current law, he is not eligible for leave time and was instead forced to use vacation or comp hours in order to respond during Hurricane Harvey. No one performing such a noble service should be forced to lose vacation or other time off in order to serve and help the rest of us. We need to do right by them."

For more information, contact our Capitol office at (512) 463-0726.

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Capitol Address:
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Room E1.314

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

(512) 463-0726

(512) 463-8428 Fax

1835 Spirit of Texas Way, Suite 100

Conroe, TX 77301

(936) 539-0068

(936) 539-0066 FAX