Why some lawmakers are pushing for a Virginia flood board
Increased flooding and an influx of carbon market dollars driving legislative push
With the sea-level rise and more frequent intense rainstorms putting pressure on communities statewide, some Virginia officials are again pushing for the creation of a state flood board.
“People may dispute the cause, but I don’t think there’s any dispute along party lines about what’s happening on the ground across the commonwealth,” said Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack. “So the question is, ‘What are we going to do about it to deal with it?’”
Lewis, as well as a commission representing 17 local governments in the flood-beset Hampton Roads region, is backing a proposal for the 2022 General Assembly session to create a Commonwealth Flood Board that they say would be akin to the Commonwealth Transportation Board that regulates and funds state transportation projects. Drafting of the legislation is already underway, said Lewis.
“We see this as very much of a bipartisan or nonpartisan issue and something that’s definitely affecting the entire state, rural as well as urban Virginia from severe southwest, Bristol, to Hampton Roads to Alexandria,” Norfolk City Councilor Andria McClellan told the state’s Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding Nov. 22.
Another subcommittee member, engineer Chris Stone, said a technical advisory committee on coastal resilience convened by Gov. Ralph Northam last November also intends to recommend that a flood board be created.
The idea isn’t new. Lewis sponsored a similar proposal during the 2021 legislative session but withdrew it from consideration because he said, “some of the advocates for it felt the idea wasn’t ready for primetime.” A separate proposal for a statewide hurricane and flood risk protection authority from Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach — soon to become Virginia’s next attorney general — also failed to make it out of committee.
This year could be different, say advocates.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.
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