County pushes support for barrier ahead

By Lora-Marie Bernard


Galveston County Commissioners Court voted last week to unanimously approve a resolutions that expands the territory of the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority and gives it more authority to manage with a regional approach.
The resolution supports Texas House Bill 4308 and dovetails into other efforts related to the proposed coastal barrier spine.  The bill would expand the territory and powers of the Gulf Coast Water Disposal Authority to include the upper Gulf Coast Region, as opposed to only Chambers, Galveston and Harris counties.
“Being how Galveston is prime for a storm surge, we need to act quickly and show the federal government that we’re on the same page with the rest of the state,” said Commissioner Joe Giusti at the meeting.
The district would be an instrument to operate and maintain “a coastal barrier constructed with federal funds to protect the upper Gulf Coast region in this state from hurricane-induced storm surges,” according to the bill.
Rep. Wayne Faircloth introduced the bill in the Texas House of Representatives on April 4. It was referred to the special purpose districts last month where it remains. A public hearing was conducted on May 4. Texas Sen. Larry Taylor filed a companion bill in Texas Senate.
Commissioner Ken Clark, who presided at the commissioners’ court meeting on May 9 in place of County Judge Mark Henry, asked about the status of the House bill and noted the companion bill had passed.
According to the Senate Journal, the chamber dispensed with the required readings of the bill and approved it by a unanimous vote on May 3. It is now in the special purpose district committee with Faircloth’s bill.
Guisti said he wasn’t sure if there would be changes to the House bill or not. He was anxious to see the county resolution adopted as a show of quick support for the effort. He said the resolution was related to receiving federal funds to build the proposed barrier.
“There’s time for changes to be made even if not this session,” he told Clark. “Right now we need to show solidarity that this needs to happen for our county.”

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