Order Code RS21777
Updated September 2, 2005
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Alabama Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory
Specialist, American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Alabama has two statutes that address emergencies and disasters — the Alabama
Emergency Management Act of 1955 (EMA) and the Alabama Homeland Security Act
of 2003 (HSA). The EMA includes authorities to ensure that preparations are made to
manage disasters or emergencies and to assist and encourage emergency management
and emergency preparedness activities by making grants to political subdivisions for that
purpose. The HSA established a Department of Homeland Security and other entities
to coordinate and undertake state preparedness, planning, and response activities. A
third statute, the Emergency Interim Succession Act, provides for the succession of
powers for legislators and officers of political subdivisions in emergencies. Assistance
is provided to victims through an extensive mutual aid program and federal aid.
This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and
homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each
profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified.
Congressional readers may wish to conduct further searches for related provisions using
the Internet link presented in the last section of this report. The National Conference of
State Legislatures provided primary research assistance in the development of these
profiles under contract to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Summary
information on all of the profiles is presented in CRS Report RL32287. This report will
be updated as developments warrant.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: As commander and chief, the governor has power in case of war,
invasions, insurrection, riot, tumult, breach of peace, natural disaster or imminent danger
to call “all or any portion or class of the armed forces of the state” into active military
service (Ala. Code §31-2-52(b)). The statute confers emergency powers on the governor
and the governing bodies of political subdivisions (Ala. Code §31-9-2(2)). The governor
is authorized to ascertain state needs in disasters or emergencies, consider rule changes
and the need for warnings, among other tasks (Ala. Code §31-9-6(3,4)).
Department of Homeland Security: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
coordinates the receipt and distribution of homeland security funding, coordinates state
strategy and establishes standards for all state homeland security efforts (Ala. Code §319A-4(b)).
Director of Homeland Security: The director heads the state DHS and is subject to
appointment by the governor and confirmation by the Senate. The powers of the director
include: receiving and disseminating federal intelligence; planning and executing
simulations; and ensuring cooperation of public officials and the private sector, among
others. Also, the director exercises specified powers when the governor declares a state
of emergency (Ala. Code §31-9A-5, §31-9A-9).
Emergency Management Agency: The State Emergency Management Agency (EMA)
ensures adequate preparations are taken to manage disasters and emergencies and
provides for the common defense to protect the peace, health and safety, and preserve
lives and property (Ala. Code §31-9-2(1)). The director of the EMA serves as an assistant
director for the Department of Homeland Security (Ala. Code §31-9A-7(c)).
The director of the EMA is appointed by the governor. (Ala. Code §31-9-4)
Homeland Security Task Force: The Task Force advises the director of Homeland
Security on plans and programs (Ala. Code §31-9A-12(d)).
Office of Emergency Management and Preparedness: The Office of Emergency
Management and Preparedness is responsible for the administration of grant assistance
programs for planning and preparedness (see citation under “Types of Assistance”). State
funds cannot be given to local governments not eligible for federal grants. State grants
are provided on a 50-50 cost sharing basis (Ala. Code §31-9-24(b)).
Local emergency management organizations: Political subdivisions in Alabama are
authorized and directed to establish local organizations, confer police officer powers, and
appoint directors of the organizations. Each local organization performs emergency
management functions within political subdivision limits (Ala. Code §31-9-10).
Joint Legislative Committee on Homeland Security Oversight: The Committee,
composed of members of the Senate and the House, reviews operations of the Department
of Homeland Security and makes annual reports to the legislature (Ala. Code §31-9A-15).
The governor must prepare a comprehensive plan and program for emergency
management, which is to be integrated and coordinated with federal government
emergency management plans and with other states to the extent possible. Political
subdivision emergency management plans and programs must be integrated into and
coordinated with state plans and programs (Ala. Code §31-9-6(2,3)).
The mutual aid agreements in which the state participates must make plans for the
orderly evacuation of civilians as a result of an emergency or disaster, and must be
worked out periodically between state party representatives and local emergency
management personnel. Plans include: type of transportation; number of evacuees in
different areas; type of food, clothing, housing and medical care to be provided; and
evacuee registration (Ala. Code §31-9-7 art. 9).
Upon the governor’s proclamation of a ?state of emergency management
emergency,” the governor must immediately call the legislature into special session.
During the period when the state of emergency exists or continues, the governor has
emergency powers to enforce all laws, rules and regulations relating to emergency
management and to assume direct operational control of all emergency management
forces and helpers (Ala. Code §31-9-8).
Types of Assistance
State officials are authorized to make grants to political subdivisions for emergency
planning and preparedness. Appropriations must be made for specific purposes and
cannot exceed expenditures or the amount to be expended for personnel and
administrative costs (Ala. Code §31-9-2 (c)).
Emergency Management Assistance Compact provisions are codified (Ala. Code
The governor is authorized by direction of the legislature, or at his discretion, to
enter into agreements and compacts with other states for mutual interstate aid in
emergencies or disasters resulting from enemy attack or other causes (Ala. Code §31-9-7).
The state statute authorizes mutual aid among political subdivisions and with other
states and the federal government with respect to emergency management functions (Ala.
Mutual aid agreements or compacts are limited to furnishing or exchanging food and
personal supplies, engineering services, emergency housing, police services, national or
state guards while under state control, and health and medicine (Ala. Code §31-9-6 (9)).
The director of each local emergency management organization may develop mutual
aid agreements with public or private agencies for emergency aid and assistance in case
of disaster. Agreements must be consistent with state emergency management plan and
program (Ala. Code §31-9-9).
The Director of the Department of Homeland Security is authorized to accept
services from the federal government and private persons (Ala. Code §31-9A-10).
The state, acting through the governor, or the political subdivision, acting through
its governing body, may accept offers from the federal government and any federal agency
or officer for services, equipment, supplies, materials or funds in the form of gifts, grants
or loans for emergency management purposes (Ala. Code §31-9-18).
Grant program appropriations are limited to amounts provided for in the statute.
They are disbursed, like all other state funds, by warrant of the comptroller as authorized
by the agency director and approved by the governor, subject to terms, conditions,
provisions and limitations. Funds appropriated from the state treasury may be used for
operations and enforcement during an emergency (Ala. Code §31-9-24).
The statute provides for a “comprehensive land-use management plan” to be
prepared in each county to manage land development, reduce flood damage, and improve
the use of flood prone areas (Ala. Code 11-19-1 et seq.).
Continuity of Government Operations
Emergency Interim Succession Act: The Act provides for emergency interim
succession to the legislature and authorizes legislators to designate at least three
emergency interim successors and specify their order of succession. Emergency interim
successors must meet constitutional and statutory qualifications to hold office, with the
exception of restrictions on current office holders. Successors are appointed for at least
one year, and must take the oath of office and keep generally informed as to the duties,
procedures, practices and current business of the legislature (Ala. Code §29-3-1 to 8).
In the event of an attack, or when an attack may be imminent, the governor may
change the legislature’s place of session to any place within or without the state (Ala.
Code §29-3-9). The governor must call the legislature into session within 90 days. The
legislature automatically convenes if the governor fails to issue a call. The statute
suspends limitations on session length and subjects that may be acted upon. (Ala. Code
§29-3-10) The statute also suspends quorum requirements and amends proportional
voting requirements. (Ala. Code §29-3-13) The statutory provisions expire two years
following the attack. The governor, by proclamation, or the legislature, by concurrent
resolution, may extend or restore authority or the operation of any provisions when
necessary for up to one year (Ala. Code §29-3-14).
Local governing bodies of cities, towns, villages, townships and counties may enact
resolutions or ordinances for filling vacancies and to provide for emergency interim
successors to offices. (Ala. Code §29-3-15) Officers of political subdivisions listed in
§29-3-15 and school, fire, power, and drainage districts must designate emergency interim
successors and specify their order of succession. The executive head of the political
subdivision must designate at least three deputies or emergency interim successors or any
combination (Ala. Code §29-3-16).
The state constitution provides for a line of succession to the office of governor (Ala.
Constitution Article 5, §127).
Persons rendering shelter during a disaster or attack are not liable for death or
injuries on their property (Ala. Code §31-9-17).
During a state of emergency and the recovery, state employees called on to respond
may claim state per diem (Ala. Code §31-9A-9(b)).
Functions authorized by the statute are government functions and are protected by
state immunity (Ala. Code §31-9A-13).
Act of terrorism
Ala. Code §13A-10-151
Ala. Code §29-3-3
Ala. Code §31-9-3 (1)
Ala. Code §31-9-8
Emergency management worker
Ala. Code §31-9-16
Ala. Code §31-9A-4
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Alabama may
be searched at [http://www.legislature.state.al.us/CodeofAlabama/1975/coatoc.htm].