Hazard mitigation bill wins state House Committee support

The House County and Municipal Government Committee passed legislation to create the Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Assessment District Act.

House Bill 2776 was authored by State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) and provides the framework for residents in each county to identify, elect and invest locally in hazard mitigation.

“After weeks of meetings over the summer, hours of testimony at the capitol and input from hundreds of stakeholders across the state as part of the 2019 Arkansas River Flood Event interim study,” Sims said. “We learned that Oklahoma doesn’t have a flooding problem, we have a Natural Disaster problem.”

According to records from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Oklahoma ranks 5th in the nation for federal disaster declarations.

“It’s not just floods—our state is literally under assault year after year from every form of disaster Mother Nature can muster,” Sims said. “This is especially true in our rural counties where disaster fatigue has stifled recovery and renewal.”

“If we are ever going to break this unfortunate tradition of tragedy, we have to empower our local communities with the ability to fight back,” Sims added. “HB 2776 is a creative and fiscally responsible lifeline to Oklahoma to finally go on offense against the future natural disasters we know are coming.”

Sims held several interim studies in the fall to conduct a comprehensive review of the historic Arkansas River Flood of 2019.

HB2776 is the first piece of legislation in response to the historic storm season of 2019 and is supported by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO), Oklahoma Emergency Managers Association (OEMA) and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA).

The bill passed the House County and Municipal Government Committee by an 8-2 vote and is now available to be heard on the House floor.

Source: House release