Capitol Update: Learning from Hurricane Harvey

November 14, 2017

Dear Friends,

Hurricane Harvey made landfall nearly three months ago.

Texas is a remarkable state, and in the wake of this storm, Texans have shown the world their remarkable character.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy.

Responding to a disaster of this magnitude requires the ultimate team effort between relief groups, each level of government, and neighbors and private businesses willing to lend a helping hand.

Sen. Hancock visits with Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Regional Director Beth Van Duyne during a relief trip to Beaumont.

While most aspects of the Harvey response have been managed extremely well, there are also ways we can learn from what happened and work to improve. In that spirit, the Texas Senate has already held six hearings to investigate and study where our disaster response and preparedness are strong and where we may need to make some changes during the next legislative session.

In the Business & Commerce committee, which I chair, we are looking particularly closely at the following interim charges:

  1. Study infrastructure security and energy restoration post weather events. Identify ways state government entities can help utilities more effectively stage pre-hurricane mobilization crews for managing resources before an event.
  2. Examine state mortgage requirements regarding the notification of homebuyers on their need for flood insurance in flood plains and flood pool areas and make recommendations on how to better inform consumers.
  3. Examine local government regulations, including occupational licenses, as related to Hurricane Harvey and determine if any are a detriment to rebuilding efforts.
  4. Examine and make recommendations on the need for changes to the Texas Constitution for home equity lenders to offer various forms of relief to Texas homeowners affected by natural disasters including, among others, the authority to enter into deferment agreements. This examination should include a study of home equity rules regarding negotiation, modification and refinancing and whether constitutionally established time periods can be waived in times of disasters.

We look forward to keeping you updated on the results of these studies. Also, if you have a story you’d like to share or a policy suggestion related to Harvey and its aftermath, please don’t hesitate to contact me at kelly.hancock@senate.texas.gov.

Sincerely,

Kelly Hancock
State Senator, District 9


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