The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow local governments to take control of storm-ravaged properties, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.
The measure passed in a 228-195 vote, according a news release from the House Public Safety Committee.
Texas has a $10 million rainy day fund and local governments have been granted authority to take over properties after a storm, but the bill would give those governments greater power to seize and use the property to make repairs and pay for renovations.
The bill was introduced in March by Texas Rep. Joe Straus, a Republican, who told reporters at the time that local governments are under more stress because they can’t rebuild the state’s infrastructure because of the floodwaters.
“The floodwaters have been a disaster for the state, and we don’t have the capacity to rebuild this infrastructure,” Straus said.
The House bill would apply to all property that is under federal jurisdiction and would allow the local governments, which are often not required to hold insurance under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to take ownership of flood-ravaled properties.
Under the legislation, a local government could also apply to the Federal Bureau of Reclamation to take title over flood-damaged properties.
The bureau would have to approve the application, but would then have to report back to the Texas General Assembly with an estimated cost of the property.
The bill also requires the local government to submit to the state the cost of any repairs, if needed.
“This bill would help communities recover from a natural disaster, but it would not do so if it required the destruction of property,” said Democratic Rep. J.C. Taylor of the Houston area, who voted against the bill.