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Relating to disaster preparation for state agencies and political subdivisions.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 7 would require the governor's office to compile a list of regulatory statutes and rules that may require suspension during a disaster. Upon request by the governor's office, a state agency that would be impacted by the suspension of a statute or rule on the governor's list would be required to review the list for accuracy and advise the governor as to any statutes or rules that should be added to the list.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management would also be required to develop a plan to assist local political subdivisions in executing disaster preparation contracts for services they are likely to need following a disaster. The bill details what must be included in the plan.
Well-executed advance preparation for disaster response and recovery is sound public policy. We see the benefit of maintaining a list of regulations and rules that may need expedited waivers in order to promote efficient disaster response and recovery.
At the same time we offer a cautionary note that this must be done with the greatest transparency so that the general public has access to this list and to prevent unintended consequences including potential openings for government action to be conducted hastily and without proper oversight, or for corruption to be enabled under cover of emergency measures.
One additional note: it may be beneficial for the governor's office to consider that if some regulations and rules are unnecessary during a disaster, perhaps they are unnecessary during normal times and should be considered for repeal.
Absent specific transparency requirements we remain neutral on HB 7.