The House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday passed legislation introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, to improve coordination between state and local partners on funding priorities for homeland security grants.
The State and High-Risk Urban Area Working Group Act (HR 4509) aims to remedy the lack of coordination between homeland security grant recipients byensuring that decision-makers work together to gain a comprehensive understanding of the community’s vulnerabilities.
The legislation would facilitate a “Whole Community” approach to disaster planning by defining more specifically who should be on State Planning Committees and Urban Area Working Groups.
“Emergency preparedness takes a whole community, but too often there is a disconnect between individuals and entities that play critical roles in disaster response,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “This lack of coordination makes it harder to protect against vulnerabilities and leaves our communities ill-prepared for disaster. Effective disaster preparedness requires that the right people are at the table when decisions are made about how federal grant funds are to be spent at the state and local level. That is why my legislation is essential to our nation’s emergency preparedness and response efforts.”
The State and High-Risk Urban Area Working Group Act would:
- Require any State or high-risk urban area receiving funding under the State Homeland Security Grant Program or the Urban Area Security Initiative to establish a State planning committee or urban area working group to assist the State in preparation and revision of threat and hazard identification and risk assessments and determining effective funding priorities for grant funds.
- Require State planning committees and high-risk urban area working groups to include representatives from each of the following stakeholder communities: (1) local and tribal government officials; (2) emergency response providers (fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services and emergency managers); (3) public health officials and appropriate medical practitioners; (4) individuals representing educational institutions, including elementary schools, community colleges, and other institutions of higher learning; (5) State and regional interoperable communications coordinators, as appropriate; and (6) State and major urban area fusion centers, as appropriate.
- Require members of the State planning committee or urban area working group to be from the counties, cities, towns, and Indian tribes within the State or high-risk urban area, including rural, high-population, and high-threat jurisdictions.
- Clarify that States or high-risk urban areas that already use a multi-jurisdictional planning committee or commission that meets the requirements of this act are not required to create a new State Planning Committee or urban area working group.