Friday, January 21, 2022


Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.


President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.


Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

Texas Improves Flood Preparedness After Hurricane Harvey


Friday, June 28, 2019   

HOUSTON – The State of Texas, still reeling from damage from Hurricane Harvey and other recent storms, has taken a major step toward improving its flood preparedness.

Two years ago, the Category Four storm left 89 people dead and caused some $125 billion in damage along the Texas coast. In its first opportunity to deal with the unprecedented disaster, the Texas Legislature approved, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed, a package of bills this year to improve the state's readiness for disaster events.

State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, who sponsored several bills to update and modernize the state's planning process, says an overhaul was overdue.

"I was seeing some of my local governments doing it the way we've always done it – each drainage district doing their own thing, each city was doing their own thing – and that just wasn't going to work,” says Phelan. “We need to approach flooding from a regional standpoint, a holistic standpoint. Water does not respect political boundaries."

Lawmakers approved one bill (Senate Bill 7) to tap the state's Rainy-Day Fund – essentially its savings account – for $800 million to finance flood mitigation projects. Another measure (SB 8) requires the state's first flood plan developed using regional watersheds. A third bill (SB 339) strengthens disclosure requirements to better inform potential buyers of a property's flood history.

The new plan will require pre-disaster mitigation projects, such as elevating homes that have flooded repeatedly and removing vulnerable structures from flood plains. It will also ensure that funding is available to restore natural areas that absorb floodwaters, like wetlands, salt marshes and streams.

Laura Lightbody, director of the Flood-Prepared Communities project at The Pew Charitable Trusts, says these types of programs should pay major dividends for the state over time.

"These required watershed-level plans are really important,” says Lightbody. “How do we take a big picture look at our community, and our development and our footprint, to understand how to avoid these future losses next time we see a big flood event?"

Lightbody says research shows that governments generally save $6 in future losses for every dollar spent on pre-disaster mitigation.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

get more stories like this via email

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 to fill the seat previously held by Republican Jeff Flake. (Flickr)

Social Issues

A wave of new Arizona voters in the 2020 election changed the normally conservative state to one where progressive candidates and ideas have a fightin…


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to use federal funds for a project to help keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. It is proposing using …

Social Issues

Healthcare workers at an Oregon hospital have achieved what they say is a "win" after several strikes in recent months. Nearly 300 workers and …

Pennsylvania has over 300 million square feet of big-box building rooftops, which new research suggests could provide almost half the electricity that these buildings consume if they were outfitted with solar panels. (Adobe Stock)


As Pennsylvania continues to grow its solar-energy capacity, a new report found the roofs of big-box stores present a big opportunity to increase …

Social Issues

If Iowa wants to create healthier outcomes for its residents, advocates say there are steps policymakers can take right now to make it happen…

Over the course of the pandemic, North Dakota has received more than $350 million in federal aid to help struggling renters, but says it has sent back roughly 40% of that money unspent. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

North Dakota has returned a significant portion of the rental assistance provided by the federal government in the pandemic, but groups working …

Social Issues

Nearly 1,200 Hoosiers are about to have some of their student-loan debt forgiven, as part of a multistate settlement with the student-loan-servicing …

Social Issues

After a defeat on Wednesday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they'll keep trying to pass voting-rights legislation, and one Wisconsin group wants …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021