Order Code RL32287
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Statutory Authorities in the States, District of
Columbia, and Insular Areas: A Summary
March 17, 2004
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae M. Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Statutory Authorities in the States, District of Columbia,
and Insular Areas: A Summary
Homeland security requires a partnership among all levels of government. As
Congress continues to debate federal responsibilities in this new policy arena,
Members may wish to assess the reach of state policies. The information presented
in this report, along with summaries of statutory authorities presented in the
companion reports on each jurisdiction (the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and
the insular areas), are intended to help Members evaluate the relationships among
federal and state policies. This information might be used to answer questions such
as the following:
What is the range of legislation enacted by the states (including the
insular areas and the District of Columbia) regarding the preparation
for and management of the consequences of terrorist attacks, natural
disasters, or significant accidents?
If Congress enacts policies that direct action to be taken in certain
areas — such as the development of capability standards or response
procedures, or placing conditions on federal assistance — what will
be the impact in those states that have established policies in these
What are the policy gaps? What areas might be better addressed
through state action? Should the federal government step in if some
states have not acted? If so, under what conditions should there be
a federal presence?
To a considerable extent, state statutory authorities appear to be relatively
uniform. All state statutes provide considerable discretionary authority to the
governor in emergency situations. Also, since federal law requires or encourages
certain actions, all states have enacted similar laws in some areas, such as the
establishment of state and local entities with responsibility for hazardous material or
chemical incidents or the acceptance of federal disaster assistance. Some differences
exist among the state authorities, such as the types, amount, and conditions under
which aid is to be provided to disaster victims. Also, some states have enacted
provisions to ensure that nonfederal funds are made available for preparedness or
recovery, while others rely upon federal sources, with state funds authorized to meet
cost share requirements.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), through a contract with
the Congressional Research Service (CRS), compiled information in calendar year
2003 that was used to develop profiles of emergency management and homeland
security statutes in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the insular areas.
These profiles are published separately as CRS reports and are listed in the appendix
to this report. It is not anticipated that this report will be updated.
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Limitations and Caveats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Summary of Major Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Entities with Key Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Preparedness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Declaration Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Types of Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Mutual Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Hazard Mitigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Continuity of Government Operations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Key Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
List of Tables
Table 1. List of States and Profile Report Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Statutory Authorities in the States,
District of Columbia, and
Insular Areas: A Summary
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) and other legislation enacted after
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, constituted a major change in federal
statutory authorities related to preparation for and response to enemy attacks, natural
disasters, and other emergency situations.1 The HSA elevated the federal role in
some domestic security areas that, prior to the attacks, were generally perceived to
be the responsibility of state governments. The enhanced federal responsibilities
were balanced, however, with the adoption of policies that require or encourage a
partnership with state and local governments2 and provide that state laws generally
are not preempted.3
The Congressional Research Service, through a contract with the National
Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), has compiled information on state
P.L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 et seq.
See, for example, the following provisions in P.L. 107-296: Section 102(c) requires that
the Secretary of Homeland Security coordinate preparedness activities and communications
systems with nonfederal entities and distribute warnings and information on threats; Section
201(d) authorizes the Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure
Protection to analyze and receive information from state and local governments and
integrate information to establish priorities for protective measures; Section 232(b) requires
that the Office of Science and Technology within the Department of Justice assess law
enforcement technology needs of state and local agencies; Section 309(d) authorizes
directors of national laboratories to enter into research and development agreements with
state or local government entities; Section 313(b) mandates that the Under Secretary for
Science and Technology establish a clearinghouse to provide assistance and information on
technology for review or use by the states; Section 430 requires that the Office for Domestic
Preparedness coordinate and consolidate preparedness and risk management efforts among
all levels of government; Section 502 requires that the Under Secretary for Emergency
Preparedness and Response build an incident management system; Section 801 established
the Office for State and Local Government Coordination to coordinate relationships with
state and local governments; Section 882 established the Office of National Capital Region
Coordination to integrate governmental planning and response activities in the Washington,
D.C. area; Section 891 expresses the sense of Congress that federal, state and local entities
should share homeland security information; and, Sections 896 and 897 authorize federal
officials to share information on potential attacks.
Section 877(b) of P.L. 107-296.
statutory authorities.4 This research was conducted to help Members of Congress
evaluate how existing law, as well as pending legislation, might correspond to state
statutory authorities that address similar missions.
Policymakers and analysts have discussed the need to improve the homeland
security partnership.5 A knowledge of (or ready access to) state statutory authorities
could be an important tool for Congress if the coordinated partnership with the states
(and other nonfederal entities) envisioned in the HSA is to be developed.
Throughout calendar year 2003, NCSL staff, working in conjunction with CRS,
reviewed state statutory codes to develop profiles of homeland security and
emergency management authorities. Statutory provisions were identified by means
of a database search of terms applied to the codified statutes available in calendar
year 2003.6 Also, manual searches of state indexes were employed to supplement the
The profiles, each issued as a separate CRS report and listed in the appendix to
this report, are intended to provide succinct summaries of the more significant
emergency management and homeland security statutory provisions. Citations to the
sources of statutory information are provided to enable readers to review statutes’
To facilitate comparisons among the states, summaries of statutory provisions
have been grouped into the following eleven categories. Each state profile report,
listed in Table 1 of this report, presents information in each of these categories, as
does this summary report.
Summary: statements on the more significant or comprehensive
Entities with key responsibilities: agencies and officials with the
most pertinent duties;
Preparedness: duties and authorities that enable citizens and
officials to prepare for emergencies;
Declaration procedures: authority and methods used by governors
to initiate emergency responses;
Throughout this report the term “state” is used to refer not only to the 50 states but to the
District of Columbia, the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands,
and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A report issued by the Twentieth Century Foundation assessed a grade of “C” to efforts
by the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate efforts with state and local
governments. See The Department of Homeland Security’s First Year: A Report Card,
found at [http://www.tcf.org/Publications/HomelandSecurity/overview.pdf], visited March
Appreciation is extended to the staff of the NCSL and to Thomas P. Carr of the
Government and Finance Division of CRS for their assistance with the database searches.
Types of assistance: most significant types of aid authorized to be
provided to entities or residents affected by a disaster;
Mutual aid: authorities that enable officials to formally establish
cooperative agreements with other jurisdictions to facilitate resource
Funding: provisions that specify the sources of funding for disaster
response or preparation;
Hazard mitigation: policies that direct or allocate resources to
prevent disasters or lessen their impact if they cannot be prevented;
Continuity of government operations: provisions that guide the
continued operation of government in the event standard procedures
cannot be followed;
Other: authorities that do not readily fit into the preceding
categories, such as civil service protections, liability, and benefits for
employees and volunteers; and
Key terms defined: a table that identifies and cites references to
the terms most pertinent to homeland security and emergency
In addition to information presented in each of these categories, each profile
includes a reference to an Internet address that may be used to search for these
statutory provisions on-line.7
Limitations and Caveats
This summary and the associated state profiles themselves are based upon
database searches completed by CRS and NCSL staff using such terms, and
variations as “disaster,” “emergency,” “terrorism,” “attack,” and “contingency,”
among others. Different related search terms could yield other results.
The information included in the profiles and used to develop this summary
illustrates significant state provisions most pertinent to the congressional debate on
homeland security policy. Related or tangential issues such as school violence,
agricultural terrorism, militia or national guard authority, and aspects of bioterrorism
may be addressed in statutes other than those cited in the profiles. The policy fields
of emergency management and homeland security overlap, touch upon other fields,
and fit into broad general governance functions. These summaries can, at best,
partially highlight the pertinent authorities. General statutory provisions that
In addition to the citations listed in each report, the following Internet site facilitates
reviews of state codes: [http://www.llsdc.org/sourcebook/state-leg.htm#AL], visited March
authorize filling vacancies in state offices or set forth the duties of public safety
officers are not included in the profiles unless they include references to significant
The material in this report, drawn from the profiles, necessarily represents an
abbreviated illustration of pertinent provisions of state statutes. To the extent
possible, each profile includes summary clauses or sentences that provide general
information on the text. One exception is found in the “Key Terms” sections. The
profiles developed for each state do not contain summaries of the text of definitions,
largely due to concerns with the size of the profiles, but also because some
definitions either made reference to other statutory provisions or repeated the term
to be defined. The specific state statute referenced in each profile should be
consulted to identify the meaning of each term defined in state statutes.
Summary of Major Findings
Although each state legislature considers and modifies statutory proposals to
suit the particular needs of state residents, model or suggested legislative proposals
have circulated among the states. As a result, the legislation is similar in certain
respects. All states provide authority to the governor to take emergency action,
require that certain actions be taken to ease the impact of attacks or other disasters,
and define key terms. All states provide for continuity of government and authorize
the negotiation or adoption of mutual aid agreements. Differences may still be found,
however, as some states have enacted provisions that pertain to specific
circumstances or legislative priorities. The remainder of this report provides
examples of some distinctive elements of state homeland security and emergency
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governors serve as commanders-in-chief of their state militias and assume
special powers upon the declaration of a disaster, emergency, enemy attack, or riot.
Although the governors’ powers vary from state to state, emergency powers in all
states generally include authorities such as the following: suspend statutory and
regulatory provisions that otherwise might hinder response to a disaster; require
hospitalization for those injured during a disaster; control ingress and egress into the
emergency area; direct the evacuation of residents and prescribe transportation
routes; provide temporary shelter; commandeer property (with compensation);
control or suspend utility services; and limit or suspend the sale and possession of
alcohol, firearms and explosives following a disaster or emergency.
The authority of the governor is circumscribed or limited by many state statutes.
Twenty-seven states have established a council or commission of other elected
officials and key advisors to provide input and advice to the governor in making
policy decisions regarding planning for and reducing the impacts of future disasters.
State emergency management agencies or divisions, led by a director or adjutant
general, are the primary staff responsible for mitigation, preparedness, response and
recovery from natural disasters and emergencies. Emergency management staff
coordinate with other state agencies and local emergency response departments to
plan for and respond to potential disasters and emergencies. Key responsibilities of
emergency management staff include writing a state emergency response plan,
assisting local governments in writing their plans, administering federal grant funding
requests, and coordinating with state, local and federal agencies to provide training,
public information, and other emergency response related activities. Some examples
of responsibilities include the following:
Nevada has both a disaster identification team within the division of
emergency management to provide technical assistance to local
authorities to recover and identify disaster victims and establish a
temporary morgue and process and dispose of the victims’ remains,
as well as a search and rescue board that provides direction to the
search and rescue coordinator and formulates policy related to search
The Oklahoma Office of Volunteerism within the Department of
Civil Emergency Management encourages emergency management
In Texas, the coordinator of the division of emergency management
also is the state drought manager.
In addition to their emergency management divisions or agencies, some states
have established commissions to address specific hazards (earthquakes, forest fires,
floods, dam safety, drought) to advise and coordinate disaster preparedness and
provide recommendations to reduce future losses and train for response, recovery and
Most states reportedly have created homeland security offices, task forces or by
gubernatorial executive order or appointment. This report does not include such
entities, but only addresses those statutorily created. Oklahoma created an office of
homeland security by statute. In a number of states, the office of emergency
management was given the responsibility to monitor and respond to homeland
Many states have determined that both terrorism preparedness and emergency
management should use existing state resources. A number of statutes provide that
the office of emergency management coordinate first responders in almost any
emergency. A few states have established a cabinet position that coordinates with
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and provides advice to the governor
about key terrorism issues, such as energy and water security. Other coordination
efforts between emergency management and homeland security include the following
In Colorado, the Office of Anti-terrorism Planning and Training is
located within the Department of Public Safety.
In Florida, the legislature requires coordination of counter-terrorism
efforts by and through the Department of Law Enforcement, in
conjunction with the Division of Emergency Management. The
legislature also created within the Department of Law Enforcement
the Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Center.
The Oklahoma Office of the Interim Homeland Security Director
coordinates state homeland security with federal agencies.
The state of Utah revised the name of the emergency management
office to reflect the assumption of additional duties — the Utah
Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security.
Also, with the advent of the threat of bioterrorism, special advisory committees have
been established to manage threats to public health.
Colorado has a governor’s expert emergency epidemic response
committee (GEEERC) to assist during a bioterrorism event.
Tennessee has a Public Health Emergency Advisory Committee that
recommends implementation of a comprehensive plan for
bioterrorism emergency preparation and response to the governor.
New Mexico enacted the Public Health Emergency Response Act to
provide authority to administrative officials to isolate, quarantine,
and respond to public health emergencies.
A few states (Missouri, New Hampshire, and Oregon) have
statutorily created legislative committees to provide legislative
oversight of terrorism, bioterrorism and homeland security issues.
Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York,
and Oklahoma have created special legislative committees by rule.
The committees provide reports to the entire assembly to keep the
legislative body appraised of recent developments.
At the local government level, many state statutes authorize emergency
management organizations to exercise police powers during a local emergency.
Should a disaster affect the entire state, local organizations are under the direction
and control of the state emergency management office. The local director of
emergency management is responsible for writing and updating the local emergency
response plan, providing training, and seeking assistance from the state emergency
The accidental or intentional release of hazardous chemicals and substances is
treated extensively in state statutes, as required by federal statutes. State and local
governments have been required to establish emergency response commissions and
local emergency preparedness committees in response to the federal Emergency
Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act to prepare for and respond to
hazardous materials releases.8 The commissions and committees are responsible for
providing training and equipment, managing grants and making annual reports to the
legislatures and governors about their activities.
State preparedness authorities require that comprehensive state emergency
management plans be developed and maintained. Other preparedness activities
authorized by statutes include developing a training program for emergency
management staff, establishing a public information program, anticipating the partial
or full mobilization of forces in anticipation of an emergency and stockpiling
supplies, equipment and facilities for use during a disaster.
Some states authorize mobile support units to assist local governments in
providing a rapid response to disasters. States in which nuclear power plants are
located have established radiological emergency management programs. Also,
preparedness for public health emergencies is reflected in many state statutes, such
as the following:
In Connecticut, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management must plan
for children’s health needs in bioterrorism preparedness and provide training in
safety and security measures for childcare workers and school personnel.
Illinois has enacted legislation requiring an emergency evacuation plan for
people with disabilities who live in high rises.
South Carolina enacted both the Emergency Health Powers Act and the
Homeland Security Act to prepare for and respond to bioterrorism or other acts
of domestic terrorism.
In response to acts of violence at schools, several states, such as Connecticut,
Louisiana, Nebraska, New York, and Virginia require the development of
school emergency response plans.
A decision by the President to issue a major disaster or emergency declaration
first requires action by the governor of an affected state.9 All state statutes authorize
the governor to declare at least one type, if not a variety of, emergencies that may be
referred to as disaster, civil preparedness, enemy attack, public health, or other
declarations. The declaration activates state and local emergency response plans,
allows the governor and his staff to deploy forces, supplies and equipment, arrange
for temporary housing and, if needed, suspend the implementation of statutes that
would hinder response and recovery from the emergency. The declaration usually
The federal statute is P.L. 99-499, 100 Stat. 1613, 42 U.S.C. 11001-11050.
42 U.S.C. 5170, 5191.
requires a statement of the type and location of the disaster and the needed assistance.
The majority of the states and the District of Columbia establish a deadline for
the termination of the emergency declaration, usually 30 days maximum — although
some states allow declarations up to six months — plus renewals if the emergency
conditions still exist. The legislature in 27 states has an oversight role and may
determine that the emergency has ceased prior to the end of the declaration period.
In those states, upon the approval of a legislative concurrent resolution, the governor
is required to issue a declaration of termination of the emergency. Some unique or
slightly different approaches to the involvement of the legislature include the
The governor of Alaska must deliver a financing plan to legislative
leaders along with the proclamation of a disaster emergency.
Gubernatorial actions not ratified by law during a legislative session
are void. The legislature may terminate a disaster emergency at any
If the governor of Arizona issues a “state of war emergency”
proclamation, a special legislative session must be called within 24
hours. Otherwise, emergency powers terminate.
A joint legislative committee in Connecticut may terminate, within
72 hours, a “state of civil preparedness emergency” issued by the
The governor of Georgia must call for a special legislative session
as a condition of declaring an emergency.
The General Assembly of North Carolina, in addition to the
governor, may issue a disaster declaration.
In some states — for example, Arizona, and the District of Columbia — the
declaration process has been expanded to include the threat of illness resulting from
bioterrorism. In some cases, the statutes establish the department of public health as
the lead coordinator for the public health emergency response.
Some state statutes also specify that local disasters or emergencies also require
that principal executive officers of political subdivisions issue a declaration to initiate
the response and recovery aspects of the local disaster plan. By statute, local
declarations can range from five days (New York) to seven days to 30 days (Utah);
some states allow renewals with the approval of the governing body of the political
Types of Assistance
States provide a range of assistance during and following an emergency,
including the provision of temporary housing (and housing sites), necessities of life,
and clearing and removing debris and wreckage. Should it be necessary, both the
governor and the governing boards of local governments often are provided with the
authority to abrogate statutes and regulations regarding contracting in order to
respond to an emergency and provide the basics of food, shelter and clothing.
In Ohio, the governor may direct the state housing finance agency to
issue housing revenue bonds and notes to assist in funding
reconstruction and replacement of housing lost due to a disaster.
Due to the unusual land ownership provisions in Hawaii, the state
housing and community development corporation must construct,
manage and operate housing units on public lands set aside by the
governor; relocated residents have the option to purchase this
Some states authorize their governors and political subdivisions to apply for
federal loans and grant funding. The funding can be provided for individual or
family assistance or assistance to local governments to replace other lost revenue
sources. Should the local governments be unable to meet the loan repayment
schedule, the governors often are given the authority to seek a waiver for the local
government from the federal government for repayment of the loan. In addition to
accepting federal funds, the governors usually are authorized to accept services,
equipment, supplies, materials and other items on behalf of the state and local
governments from federal and private sector sources. A number of states require
emergency management officials and political subdivisions to use the services,
equipment, supplies and facilities of existing departments and offices to the
maximum extent possible in responding to a disaster.
Several states assist disaster victims by offering tax assistance, extensions or
other financial latitude. In some states, property owners are provided with waivers
or reduced assessments if their property has been adversely affected by the natural
disaster. Some specific examples of assistance follow:
In Alaska, the director of the Division of Land may make grants of
state land to persons and municipal corporations to replace land
rendered unusable by a natural disaster. The granted lands may be
put to the same purpose as those rendered unusable.
California has established a loan guarantee program to help small
businesses recover from disasters.
In Georgia, a taxpayer who receives disaster assistance from state or
federal agencies is allowed a $500 tax credit or the actual amount of
the assistance, whichever is less.
Kansas school districts may donate surplus personal property
(furniture, supplies, clothing) to disaster relief programs.
Mississippi prevents foreclosures on disaster damaged property.
In Maine, the Natural Disaster Business Assistance program
provides financial aid to enterprises that suffered financial hardship
as a direct result of a natural disaster and lack access to federal or
other disaster funds.
Authorities pertinent to emergency mutual aid encourage or allow agreements
to be instituted among political subdivisions and Indian tribal nations within a state,
out-of-state with neighboring political subdivisions or other states, or internationally
with Canadian provinces.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which
has been codified into state statutes, provides a prearranged structure
for a state affected by a disaster to request aid from other states.
Forty-eight states have agreed to the terms of EMAC, along with the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
California and Hawaii are the two states that do not participate in
In addition to EMAC, other interstate mutual aid agreements have been enacted
into law by the states. The majority of the states include the power to enter into
mutual aid agreements in the emergency management powers of the governor or
Several states also belong to or authorize forest fire compacts,
including Montana, New York, Wyoming.
At least three states (Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas) still have civil
defense compacts recorded in their states.
Other states (New Jersey, New York) have mutual aid statutes that
provide for mutual aid during an enemy attack in order to protect
bridges, tunnels and other major infrastructure components.
In the majority of the states, the first recourse for disaster funding is to reallocate
departmental appropriations to meet emergency needs. Should these reallocated
appropriations prove insufficient, the legislature may be called into special session
to approve additional appropriations needed to respond to the emergency, or to
provide nonfederal funds required to match federal disaster grant funds. Some states
require political subdivisions to exhaust local agency funds before seeking state
Most states have established special disaster response and assistance relief funds
to alleviate the effects of the disaster or make grants and loans to persons or political
Arkansas has added the Disaster Relief Income Tax Checkoff on
state income tax forms.
The Florida Emergency Management, Preparedness and Assistance
Trust Fund is supported through a surcharge to home and business
Some states, for example Illinois, Michigan, and South Carolina,
sponsor special license plates, in response to the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks, and earmark funds for emergency
management and homeland security activities.
Some state statutes impose limits on the amount that governors may expend to
respond or recover from disasters. Some examples follow.
The governor of Alaska may use up to $1 million in state funds per
year for disaster assistance. Additional funding requires legislative
Arkansas statutes create specific funds with limits specified for
activities such as immediate response, recovery, and hazard
The Natural Disaster Assistance Act for California limits disaster
assistance loans to persons and small business to $200,000.
The governor of Hawaii cannot expend more than $1 million for
relief efforts after any single major disaster.
Aerial fire suppression activities in Nebraska are limited to $10,000
per event without a gubernatorial proclamation that a state of
The governors and state agencies of several states have been directed to consider
actions to reduce the losses likely to result from future disasters, or to prevent the
disasters if possible. Hazard mitigation activities ease the consequences of
emergencies related to land shifting, subsidence, flooding, fires or other catastrophic
occurrences whether they are manmade or natural. Hazard mitigation activities are
generally categorized as either structural (the construction or demolition of facilities,
or the modification of buildings) or non-structural (land use planning, zoning,
modification of building codes, or education).
Most state statutory provisions related to hazard mitigation place requirements
on communities or property owners.
Illinois requires towns and homeowners within floodplains to
participate in the federal flood insurance program in order to qualify
for disaster assistance, and authorizes designation of a 100-year
floodway in which construction is prohibited.
Iowa authorizes the construction of levees and dams.
Maryland requires that counties adopt the state response plan and
participate in the federal flood insurance program.
Oregon requires the relocation of dwellings to mitigate the potential
effects of landslides.
Other provisions authorize agency officials and the governor to undertake
studies and make recommendations regarding changes in legislation and regulations
that address zoning, land use, building codes and construction standards in order to
mitigate the impact of potential future emergencies.
The Alabama statute provides that each county must prepare a
comprehensive land use management plan.
Hawaii has established a coastal zone management program to
reduce hazards from tsunamis, subsidence, and other causes.
State agencies in Pennsylvania must complete hazard mitigation
studies to address economic recovery, floodplain management, or
fires, among other threats.
A number of states provide authority for the allocation of resources to achieve
hazard mitigation goals.
Public bond sales in California may be used to fund improvements
to reduce earthquake losses to unreinforced masonry in multifamily
Communities in Oklahoma may apply to the state for grants or loans
for flood hazard mitigation measures.
Continuity of Government Operations
An important component of a state emergency plan is ensuring that all
institutions of government (the office of the governor, the legislature, the judiciary
and the political subdivisions) continue to operate following an attack or other
catastrophic emergency. In addition to providing for state constitutional offices,
continuity of government statutes ensure that the seat of government and the business
of government continue by moving to another location, even if that location is
outside state boundaries. All states provide for the continuation of service in the
event of death or disability. Continuity of government operations more broadly
addresses the procedures to be followed when entire agencies, buildings, or elements
of state government are threatened or suffer from a disaster.
Most state statutes provide that any legislation or government acts conducted
at the new seat of government have the same authority as those undertaken at the
regular seat of government. Local seats of government also can be moved to ensure
that their governmental functions can continue during an emergency.
Several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi,
Montana, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington, for example,
require that the governor call the legislature into special session (if
not already in session) to address emergency situations that threaten
In Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, and South Carolina, for example, the
legislature automatically convenes if the governor fails to call the
general assembly into session within 90 days.
A number of states place an affirmative duty on legislative interim successors
to keep up to date on the matters facing the incumbents.
Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin and the Virgin Islands
require the state archivist or state library to preserve important
public records and to archive the actions taken at the new seat of
Illinois requires local governments to ensure important documents
are preserved for use in a new location.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands requires
criminal justice records to be collected and stored for homeland
In general, states have enacted provisions that protect from liability property
owners whose facilities are used to prepare for or during an emergency situation, to
compensate employees and volunteers for the assistance they provide, and to
reimburse owners of property used for disaster relief purposes.
Several states have enacted legislation that state and local employees who are
certified Red Cross volunteers should be granted leave with pay to assist in
responding to emergencies (the amount of leave time varies and some states limit
Red Cross volunteers to respond only to instate disasters).
A Nebraska state or political subdivision employee who is an
emergency communications technician is granted a leave of absence
for emergency duty either instate or in selected other states.
Some states, for example California and Hawaii authorize the
provision of psychological services to first responders and victim in
the event of a catastrophic event.
Definitions of terms are critical to the scope of state authorities. Undefined
terms such as “emergency” or “attack” may provide considerable latitude to
executive officials responsible for preparing for or responding to incidents that might
not be seen as such by others. Most states set forth a definition of basic terms,
including “emergency,” “disaster,” “attack,” “catastrophe” or combinations of those
Guam and Wyoming do not include any such terms in their statutes.
Only one state (Massachusetts) refers to “Act of God.”
Vermont defines only two terms related to the causes of
emergencies, “attack” and, more specifically, “radiological
Most, but not all states, define specific terms that may be considered in the
declaration of an emergency situation.
The terms “hazardous material” and “natural disaster,” or “resource”
or “energy” shortages are set out to identify the particular material
or condition that poses a threat to public health and safety if released
(California, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, the District of Columbia).
Some states separate “natural” disasters or emergencies from others
(Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Utah, Virginia) and three specifically list floods (Idaho, Oklahoma,
Those that use the term “act of terrorism” or variations on the term
include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan,
New Mexico, and Ohio.
Further specificity of the types of enemy acts are provided in the
statutes for Connecticut (“local civil preparedness emergency”),
Hawaii (“civil defense emergency period”), Kansas (“state of war
emergency”), and Pennsylvania (“war caused disasters”).
Two states (Alabama and Iowa) have incorporated the term
“homeland security” into their statutes.
Based on the inclusion of other terms that relate to terrorist threats or attacks in
a number of states (Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana,
Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), and
the District of Columbia, a number of states have recognized that even if “homeland
security” is not referred to as a general policy area, terms particularly pertinent to
threats to homeland security must be included in the state codes.
In general, states continue to use the term “emergency management” in their
statutes. Of the 56 entities, half (28) include the term and almost all contain related
terms that identify individuals or offices with emergency management
Table 1. List of States and Profile Report Numbers
Profile report number
CRS Report RS21777
CRS Report RL32319
CRS Report RL32288
CRS Report RS21789
CRS Report RL32289
CRS Report RL32320
CRS Report RL32290
CRS Report RS21790
CRS Report RL32291
CRS Report RS21793
CRS Report RS21783
CRS Report RS21792
CRS Report RS21801
CRS Report RL32332
CRS Report RS21802
CRS Report RS21797
CRS Report RS21784
CRS Report RS21798
CRS Report RS21800
CRS Report RS21796
CRS Report RL32299
CRS Report RL32329
CRS Report RS21780
CRS Report RL32328
CRS Report RL32298
CRS Report RL32330
CRS Report RS21781
CRS Report RS21873
CRS Report RS21782
CRS Report RL32434
CRS Report RS21788
CRS Report RL32435
CRS Report RL32317
CRS Report RL32404
CRS Report RL32678
CRS Report RL32403
CRS Report RS21927
CRS Report RL32405
CRS Report RS21929
CRS Report RS21940
CRS Report RL32325
CRS Report RL32406
CRS Report RL32326
CRS Report RS21941
CRS Report RL32327
CRS Report RL32559
CRS Report RL32316
CRS Report RS21879
CRS Report RL32318
CRS Report RS21928
CRS Report RS21803
N. Mariana Is.
CRS Report RS21806
District of Col.
CRS Report RS21804
CRS Report RS21926
CRS Report RS21805
U.S. Virgin Is.
CRS Report RS21878