What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Katrina aid bill advances

Old rules had hampered recovery

WASHINGTON -- The House passed a bill Monday which will aid areas hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita by retroactively changing federal rules that have hampered recovery.

"Sometimes it seems that public schools and city and county offices will be the last buildings rebuilt on the Mississippi Coast," said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, in a statement.

"This bill will help resolve any remaining problems so that local officials can start construction. The bill also provides flexibility for alternate projects and for mitigation grants so that the new facilities can be built better and stronger than the buildings that were destroyed."

The bill, which passed by voice vote, would change the Stafford Act in a number of ways, notably by increasing the federal share of constructing relocated buildings or "alternate projects," as they are called, from 75 percent to 90 percent.

"The Stafford Act was not written for disasters the magnitude of Katrina and Rita," said Rep. Charles Melancon, D-La.

The bill also would allow work already done by local communities to strengthen structures and infrastructure to count toward the 25 percent state match for federal hazard mitigation grants, a change that could mean as much as $145 million to Mississippi. It would permit work done by the state and localities to count for the state's match requirement under the Stafford Act to access Mississippi's $434 million in FEMA's hazard mitigation funding.

The bill will now be considered by the Senate, where Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is poised to champion it. "We're supportive of the bill," said Landrieu press secretary Stephanie Allen. "We're still reviewing it but we expect to usher it through the Senate Homeland Security Committee." Landrieu chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Disaster Recovery subcommittee.

Taylor was not present for the House vote, which was done under suspension of the rules, a device usually reserved for noncontroversial bills.

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home

No comments: