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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bonnen Chairs Committee Examining Property Rights And Coastal Issues

Insider's Report Vol. 7, No. 10

Holds hearing on municipal annexation, zoning, and coastal protection bills

It is hard for me to believe that almost half of the 81st legislative session has passed.  As many of you know, this is the part of the legislative session where the committees here at the Capitol are hard at work going through stacks of bills and listening to people from across our great state express their opinions about these measures.  The work that the committees do is vital to the legislative process, and I take this responsibility seriously as the Chairman of the House Committee on Land and Resource Management.

This past Wednesday, I chaired a meeting of the House Committee on Land and Resource Management.  The committee took public testimony on 14 separate bills, half of them dealing with municipal annexation and zoning, and the other half dealing with a variety of coastal issues.  At this hearing I was given the opportunity to explain to the committee members several of the coastal bills that I have filed this session.

I believe that maintaining, growing, and protecting our beaches and our coastal infrastructure is critically important to the success and safety of not only our local communities, but to the entire state and nation as well.  Because of this, I have filed a number of bills that I believe will help place the state in a better position to work effectively with our local communities in ensuring that our coastal areas are protected, and that when another Hurricane Ike-type event occurs we will all be as well prepared as is humanly possible.

I have authored House Bills 2073 and 2074 to make certain that our limited resources are spent efficiently among our coastal communities by requiring state and local governments to work better together when planning and funding coastal projects.  I had the opportunity to explain House Bill 2387 to the committee, a bill that would authorize the GLO to consider the acquisition of property that has ended up on the public beach as the result of erosion so that crucial beach renourishment projects are not delayed by prolonged litigation with property owners.

I also presented House Bill 1445 that would allow for the construction of a revetment-style shore protection project in Treasure Island to improve public access to the coastline and prevent the removal of critical infrastructure in the area that may otherwise fall beyond the line of vegetation due to extreme erosion.

With respect to post-Ike recovery efforts, I was successful in adding approximately $13.5 million in funding to the Hurricane Ike appropriations bill that will be dedicated to the rebuilding of Bluewater Highway.  This bill remains before the House Appropriations committee but will soon move through the process for consideration by the full House.