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Lawmakers debate tightening flood plain development rules

May 07, 1996
By: Dana Coleman
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Black clouds loomed over the State Capital while the Missouri River, nearing its banks, swelled and surged, as lawmakers debated tightening up flood plain development rules.

If the bill becomes a law, then counties that don't have planning and zoning boards would have to submit plans to build structures in the flood plain, said Rep. Gary Wiggins, D-Macon, the bill's sponsor.

Also, money from the Economic Development Department, which is used to help lure businesses to the state, would be off-limits to any proposal to build a structure in the flood plain.

The House gave initial approval to the measure, which faces one more vote before moving to the Senate. But Tuesday's approval, which passed by only a few votes, caused the bill's sponsor to hold off on taking a final vote.

Opponents to the measure said it would invite unwanted government involvement.

"This piece of legislation is just another attempt by big brother government to step into the private sector and to our private lives and impose another level of bureacracy," said Rep. Charles Nordwald, R-Warrenton.

Many of the bill's opponents represent districts that have received federal flood disaster relief.

"It does seem some of the people that have complained the most have been the ones that have received the most benefits from it over the years," Wiggins said.

He maintains the measure aims to reduce the financial loss that could result from future floods. In addition to limiting flood plain development, the bill also would help counties and cities without flood insurance set up a preventative plan, he said.

The federal goverment may not give the same financial assisatance to communities without flood insurence that it has in the past.

More than 600 local governments around the state don't have flood insurance, Wiggins said.

Wiggins, a member of the Governor's flood task force, has been working with the State Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and the Economic Development Department, which support the legislation.

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