In a Wednesday afternoon hearing of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Senator Katie Fry Hester (District 9 – Carroll and Howard Counties) detailed her proposed legislation (Senate Bill 269) to increase aid to localities in the event of catastrophic flooding. The bill requires the Maryland Comprehensive Flood Management Program to receive $5M in annual funding. Additionally, the bill would define and expand the use of the program to include infrastructure repairs, debris removal, and emergency protection work associated with a flood event.
The Senator representing Ellicott City, Hester detailed the catastrophic and historic storms that the city faced in both 2016 and 2018. She noted: “I’m obviously here representing Ellicott City, but this grant management program would help the whole state.” She followed: “While the state wanted to be supportive at the time of the first flood, the flood mitigation grant fund (established in the 1990s) was empty.”
“With storm patterns changing rapidly, it’s going to be very difficult to predict where the next flood event will occur,” said Hester. Citing recent flooding incidents on the Maryland Eastern Shore, Montgomery County, and the cities of Baltimore and Annapolis, Hester noted the statewide necessity of organized and increased flood mitigation funding. “Flooding is the new normal,” she stated.
Joining Senator Hester in her sponsorship of the legislation are six additional bipartisan Senate co-sponsors including Senators Carter (D- District 41), Guzzone (D- District 13), Hough (R- District 4), Kagan (D- District 17), Lam (D- District 12), Peters (D- District 23), West (R- District 42), and Zucker (D- District 14).
The legislation is identically cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 428 and sponsored by Delegate Courtney Watson (D- District 9B). House Bill 428 was heard before the House Environment and Transportation Committee on February 19th and awaits a vote from the committee.
Both Senate Bill 269 and House Bill 428 are supported by the administrations of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the Maryland Sierra Club, and the Maryland Association of Counties.
Having now been heard in its committee of origin, Senate Bill 269 awaits a vote of the Budget and Taxation Committee. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.