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Flood-plain Regulation Rejected

May 9, 1996
By: Dana Coleman
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Just two days after approving stronger state regulation over development in flood plains, the House reversed itself and rejected the idea.

Opponents "gutted" the bill before taking a final vote. By the end of the debate, the bill would have merely established a flood plain data collection agency, said the bill's sponsor, Gary Wiggins, D-New Cambria.

The Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association played a strong role in the bill's defeat, Wiggins said. Members of the state-wide grassroots association, spent the last few days calling representatives, urging them to vote against the measure.

"We're opposed to restricting economic development in the flood plain," said Tom Waters, the association's secretary.

"Once the bill's passed, we don't know what kinds of rules and regulations they would write," said Waters.

The association's president Paul LePage, said he worked closely with the Missouri Farm Bureau to stop the legislation. "This bill would be creating a new level of bureaucracy," LePage said.

Supporters of flood-plain development restrictions argue that continued development in these areas makes flood-relief efforts more difficult and expensive -- even if the development was done against government recommendations.

As happened with the 1993 flood, government agencies ended up finding themselves fighting a loosing battle to protect the areas and, in the aftermath, providing recovery support in the very areas where development had been discouraged.