Howdy WHA Members,
The first quarter of 2021 has been a particularly active season for advocacy.
As you may remember, we put out our legislative agenda a few months back that touched on four priority areas: 1) Expanding the ability of MUDs to finance recreational facilities through bonds, 2) Continuation of existing funding for Texas’ transportation needs, 3) Support for sustainable infrastructure, and 4) Continued support for flood control improvements. Early in the 87th legislative session we sent copies of our agenda to state legislators representing the 1,000 square miles of greater West Houston. We knew that this session would already be challenging due to the focus on Covid response, but winter storm Uri’s impact on the Texas electric grid has made this an even crazier session. Despite these hinderances, we are still moving forward with advocacy work to support legislation that is in the benefit of the West Houston region.
In March, the Board of Directors of the West Houston Association passed two resolutions. The first supports the passage of HB 1410 and its companion SB 1959, which would allow qualified districts to develop and finance additional recreational facilities to serve their community and the region. The second supports the University of Houston’s request for state funding by the Texas Legislature for expanding the University of Houston’s campus and facilities in the Katy area, which would help in addressing the growing educational needs in the greater West Houston region.
Advocacy efforts have also included letters of support for specific projects and legislation. Our regional mobility committee has been particularly active on this front. First, with a letter to TxDOT encouraging TxDOT’s continued development of frontage roads and specifically supporting improvements along US 290 between James Muse Pkwy and FM 362 in concurrence with the City of Waller’s request to further economic vitality of the area. Then, with a letter to State Senator Boris Miles supporting SB 1988 and SB 1990 which would facilitate the potential for CenterPoint Right-of-Ways to be used for transportation.
Regarding Flood Control and Drainage, we have been discussing the changes to Chapter 9 of the City of Houston’s Design Manual with multiple stakeholders and public officials and will continue to seek revisions that will better align the city and county detention requirements. We also wrote a letter of support for Willow Fork Drainage District who is applying for a loan from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to excavate a 420-acre tract in Baker Reservoir to create recreational space as well as wetlands and aquatic habitats that will also serve as detention.
Collaborating with other organizations is key to our advocacy efforts. This includes working as part of the Houston Stronger coalition to support continued flood control improvements, working with the Greater Houston Partnership regarding support for HB 1556, reauthorization of Chapter 313 of the Tax Code – Texas Economic Development Act, and a joint group of WHA members from the Water Resources Committee and the Flood Control & Drainage Committee reviewing a draft of the Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan at the request of the Houston Galveston Area Council.
This is only a sampling of what we have going on this year at the West Houston Association. I look forward to our continued efforts to increase quality of life across the Greater West Houston Region!