W.Va. House of Delegates working to strengthen flood recovery efforts

The raging Gauley River passes under a bridge filled with debris June 2016, the day after floods devastated parts of Southern West Virginia.

Christian Tyler Randolph | via West Virginia Press Association

The raging Gauley River passes under a bridge filled with debris June 2016, the day after floods devastated parts of Southern West Virginia.

The West Virginia House of Delegates has recently proposed a bipartisan bill that would work to establish a committee to prepare for state flooding protection and a related council.

Speaker Tim Armstead posted a press release outlining House Bill 2935, which was introduced in the House March 10.

The bill comes after the devastation produced by the flooding last summer June 2016.

The press releases notes how the bill is supported by bipartisan members of the House who represent counties that were damaged by the floods.

According to the text of the bill found on the West Virginia Legislature website, HB 2935 would serve “to establish the state Flood Protection Planning Council and authorize certain duties; and establish a Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding.”

Armstead’s press release notes who will serve on the State Flood Protection Planning Council, which would include the director of the Division of Natural Resources, among others.

Concerning the Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, the press release from Armstead outlined how the committee will be composed of 10 bipartisan lawmakers from both chambers.

The introduction of HB 2935 comes shortly after United States Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin released statements on their websites last month saying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency will be contributing $1.9 million to counties in West Virginia that suffered immense damage in last summer’s floods.

“While we may not be able to prevent future floods, my goal is that this council and legislative committee will help us establish better warning systems for our citizens and ways to mitigate the severity of future disasters,” Armstead said in his press release on HB 2935.

The press release also says the Speaker sponsored and introduced a related bill, HB 2869, on March 9.

The introduced version of the bill can be found on the West Virginia Legislature website.

The purpose of HB 2869 “is to provide that certain state employees may be granted a leave of absence with pay while providing assistance as an essential member of an emergency aid provider during a declared state of emergency.”

House Bill 2869 was introduced and sent to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration on March 9.

As for the bipartisan bill HB 2935, summarized on the West Virginia Legislature website as “relating to state flood protection planning,” it has since been sent to the House Government Organization Committee for discussion.

The press release provided by Armstead notes the West Virginia Legislature passed HB 2796 last session, which served a similar purpose as the recent bill, HB 2935, and it was vetoed by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Kylee Hurley can be contacted at [email protected]