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Governor extends aid for needs caused by Hurricane Harvey


Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 20 extended his state disaster declaration for 60 counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“As Texans continue to recover from this storm, I want (to) make it absolutely clear that the State of Texas will be there every step of the way. This disaster declaration extension will help ensure affected communities continue to get the resources they need to rebuild and return to full operation. Although the road to recovery will be long, Texas is fully committed to doing everything we can to assist those in need along the way,” Abbott said.

State disaster declarations must be renewed every 30 days for assistance to remain available, and Abbott said he would continue to renew the declarations as needed.

On Sept. 20, Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged President Trump to ensure that churches and other religious organizations are treated equally with other nonprofits and not excluded from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster funding for victims of the storm.

FEMA rules offer assistance to private non-profit organizations, including zoos, performing arts centers, and museums, but facilities established or primarily used for religious activities are excluded, Abbott and Paxton said. The president, they added, has the authority to include churches and other houses of worship in FEMA’s definition of a “private nonprofit facility.”

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), through the website, provides a way for travelers to choose routes in, around, or through hurricane-stricken areas of the state. TxDOT said that with more than 500 state roadway closures during the height of Hurricane Harvey, the website was visited more than 5 million times as drivers searched to check road conditions, find alternate routes, and see closures on state roadways.

Insurance chief is named

Gov. Abbott on Sept. 21 appointed Kent Sullivan of Austin as Commissioner of Insurance for a term set to expire Feb. 1, 2019.

Sullivan is now in charge of overseeing the Texas Department of Insurance, the agency that regulates the insurance industry and protects consumers.

Sullivan, a partner at the Jackson Walker law firm, previously served as a justice on the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, as first assistant state attorney general and as a state district court judge.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or

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