House Sends Disaster Relief Bills to Senate

Following numerous tornadoes across the state this spring, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed two bills Tuesday to assist communities affected by recent tornadoes.

House Bill 2912 and House Bill 2913 were coauthored by and presented on the House floor by Rep. Judd Strom, R-Copan, whose district includes the town of Barnsdall. The town suffered severe damage as a result of an EF4 tornado on May 6, which led to the deaths of two people and numerous injuries.

“The outpouring of support from across the state and country has been tremendous, and I want to thank everyone who has already reached out,” Strom said. “This funding represents a major step toward filling a crucial gap in hazard mitigation and restoring the communities across Oklahoma that have been or will be affected by natural disasters, and I’m glad to see strong support for these measures as they move through the process.”

HB2912 creates the State Assistance Dedicated for Disaster-impacted Local Economies Revolving Fund. The fund would provide advanced financial liquidity to governmental subdivisions directly impacted by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)-declared emergency or disaster event. Governmental subdivisions could put the funds toward infrastructure repair, temporary housing and shelter, to fund gaps in required matching funds necessary to participate in FEMA programs, and to mitigate revenue losses.

HB2913 appropriates $15 million to the State Emergency Fund and $30 million to the fund created by HB2912.

Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee, whose district is still grappling with the after-effects of a tornado in April 2023, expressed strong support for both bills.

“Last year, I saw firsthand the incredible spirit of the Oklahoma standard as people traveled from across the state to provide support,” Kerbs said. “Having resources like this funding available is crucial for meeting the minimum funding requirement for specific federal programs and assisting our affected neighbors in their rebuilding efforts.”

Both bills passed the House 80-0 on Tuesday and now move to the Senate for consideration.

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