Order Code RS21782
March 26, 2004
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Iowa Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae M. Warnock
Government and Finance Division
The primary Iowa emergency management statute (Iowa Code Title I, §29C)
delegates emergency powers and authorities to the governor, the state Emergency
Management Division, and local emergency management commissions. The General
Assembly, or the Legislative Council if the former is not in session, may rescind a
gubernatorial declaration of a disaster. Assistance and funding are accomplished
through a combination of federal aid, fees, a state emergency response fund, and a state
contingent fund. If the state emergency management administrator determines that
localities have not prepared adequate plans or hired qualified coordinators, local
governments may be prohibited from appropriating funds for such purposes. Iowa
participates in interstate compacts for mutual aid, and provides for mutual assistance and
training between local governments.
This report is one of a series that profiles 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,
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
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor may: suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute,
order, or rule, and may suspend statutes that limit local government assistance to victims
of disaster; enter into mutual aid arrangements with other states; coordinate mutual aid
plans between political subdivisions; transfer direction, personnel, or functions of
departments; commandeer private property; compel evacuation or control movement of
population in stricken or threatened area; and regulate the sale or transportation of
alcoholic beverages, firearms, and combustibles (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.6.(6.)-(16.))
During a “state of public disorder emergency” the government is empowered to prohibit
public gatherings, prohibit the possession of flammable liquids in extraordinary
circumstances, and take other restrictive actions (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.3(4)). The
governor serves as commander in chief of the state military forces and may assign them
to provide assistance to civil authorities in emergencies resulting from disasters (Iowa
Code Title I, §29A.7). [See also “Declaration Procedures,” below]
Emergency Management Division: The statute creates the division within the
Department of Public Defense and confers responsibility for the administration of
emergency planning matters, and emergency resource planning, among other activities
(Iowa Code §29C.5). The statute creates the position of administrator of the division.
The adjutant general exercises supervisory authority over the division (Iowa Code Title
Adjutant General: The adjutant general serves as director of the Department of
Public Defense under direction of the governor. In the event of disaster beyond local
control, the adjutant general may assume control over emergency management functions
(Iowa Code Title I, §29C.7).
Emergency Management Administrator: The administrator is appointed by the
governor and serves as head of the emergency management division. The administrator
is responsible for preparing and executing emergency management and homeland security
programs, subject to the direction of the adjutant general. The administrator is charged
with preparing a comprehensive plan and emergency management program for homeland
security, disaster preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation, emergency operation, and
resource management. Also, the administrator provides technical assistance to local or
joint emergency commissions, surveys facility vulnerabilities, prepares a critical asset
protection plan, and identifies personnel and expenditures appropriate for emergency
management (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.8).
Local emergency management commissions: County boards of supervisors, city
councils, and school district boards of directors in each county must cooperate with the
Emergency Management Division to establish a local emergency management
commission. Such commissions provide direction for local emergency management,
appoint emergency management coordinators, and develop an emergency operations plan.
Two or more commissions may agree to joint coordination and administration of
emergency management services (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.9).
Local emergency management coordinator: Local coordinators are appointed by
the state commission (described below); each coordinator is responsible for the
development of the countywide emergency operations plan, the coordination of
emergency planning activities, and the provision of technical assistance to political
subdivisions throughout the county (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.9(7.),§29C.10).
Emergency Response Commission: The statute established the Emergency Response
Commission, charged with implementing provisions of the federal Emergency Planning
and Community Right-to-Know Act, comprehensive emergency response plans, and
interagency agreements (Iowa Code Title I, §30.1-30.12). For organizational purposes the
statute attached the commission to the Department of Public Defense (Iowa Code Title
State government departments and agencies are authorized to share the cost of the
design, construction, and operation of a disaster recovery facility, and funds, including
user fees and appropriations, may be used to cover these expenses (Iowa Code Title I,
The statute requires local governments to submit, and have approved, a countywide
emergency operations plan that complies with state standards, and requires the local
emergency management commissions to encourage officials to test emergency plans and
capabilities. Local emergency management commissions must develop and encourage
tests of emergency plans and capabilities (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.9.(8, 9.)).
Comprehensive emergency response plans required under federal law (42 U.S.C.
11003) must be submitted to the Department of Public Defense (Iowa Code Title I,
The administrator of the Emergency Management Division is required to review and
support the operations of an urban search and rescue team and develop and support a
uniform incident command system for state agencies (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.8(3.f.)).
See also “Funding,” below.
The governor is authorized to proclaim a state of “public disorder emergency,” which
continues for 10 days, unless terminated by the governor. The General Assembly may
rescind such a proclamation by concurrent resolution. If the General Assembly is not in
session, the Legislative Council may, by a majority vote, rescind the proclamation (Iowa
Code Title I, §29C.3.(1.)-(3.))
The governor is authorized to proclaim a “state of disaster emergency,” which
continues for 30 days unless terminated or extended by the governor. The General
Assembly may rescind a proclamation by means of a concurrent resolution. If the General
Assembly is not in session, the Legislative Council may, by a majority vote, rescind the
proclamation. The declaration activates the state disaster response and recovery plans and
authorizes the use of such forces, supplies or equipment as may be necessary (Iowa Code
Title I, §29C.6.(1.)).
Types of Assistance
If the President issues a major disaster declaration, the governor may establish
temporary housing for disaster victims and may for a period not to exceed 60 days,
temporarily suspend or modify any requirement of law when essential to provide
temporary housing for victims. The governor is authorized to apply to the federal
government, on behalf of a local government, for a loan to restore or resume
governmental functions, and may recommend the cancellation of repayment of such a
loan. The governor may order debris and wreckage removal from publicly or privately
owned land or water. The statute authorizes the governor to accept federal funds for
debris removal and holds harmless the state or local governments against any claim
arising from such removal (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.6.(2.) to(5.)).
All purchases made under the provisions of the emergency management statute are
exempt from personal property, services, and sales and use taxes (Iowa Code Title I,
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Iowa Code Title I,
The statute provides for mutual assistance between participating governments to
manage emergencies or disasters arising from a natural disaster, technological hazard,
man-made disaster, community disorder, insurgency, terrorism, or enemy attack. The
statute also provides for cooperation in emergency-related exercises, testing, or other
training (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.22).
The emergency management coordinator for each local emergency management
agency develops mutual aid arrangements for reciprocal disaster services and recovery aid
and assistance. Coordinators may enter into mutual aid arrangements with emergency
management agencies or organizations in other states (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.11).
The statute created a contingent fund in the state treasury to be used by the Executive
Council for the purpose of loaning money for expenses of: suppression of an insurrection
or riot; restoration and repair of state property; and mitigation activities. The Executive
Council may make financial grants for disaster-related expenses, serious needs, hazard
mitigation projects of local governments, eligible private nonprofit agencies, or to help
individuals or families. The statute limits the amount of grants to be provided (Iowa Code
Title I, §29C.20).
Authorizes the governor or officials of a political subdivision to accept federal or
other grants for services, equipment, supplies, materials or funds for purposes of
emergency management (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.13).
The governor may accept federal aid after the President issues a major disaster
declaration to meet the needs of individuals or families adversely affected, and may
pledge the state to provide not more than 10% of eligible expenses for local governments
and eligible nonprofit agencies, 25% for state needs, and 10% for hazard mitigation. The
statute authorizes federal and state financial assistance for local governments and eligible
private nonprofit agencies (Iowa Code Title I, §29C.6.(17a.)).
The statute created a local emergency management fund in the offices of county
treasurer and authorizes county emergency management budgets to be funded by special
levies, per capita allocations from the general fund, or other means as specified (Iowa
Code Title I, §29C.17).
The statute authorizes the administrator of the Emergency Management Division to
charge fees for the maintenance of radiological detection equipment. Such fees must be
used for radiological maintenance facilities or radiation incident response training (Iowa
Code Title I, §29C.8.(5.)).
The statute created an emergency response fund in the state treasury, with money to
be derived from penalties and fines imposed for natural resources and hazardous waste
violations. The fund is administered by the Emergency Management Division and is
authorized to carry out planning and training for emergency response teams (Iowa Code
Title I, §29C.8A).
See contingent fund reference in “Funding,” below.
The statute authorizes a range of flood plain management and erosion control
provisions, including water resources plans, the construction of levees, dams, or other
structures, and policies governing land and water use (Iowa Code Title I, §161E and
Continuity of Government Operations
The state constitution provides for a line of succession to the offices of governor and
lieutenant governor (Iowa Constitution, Article IV, § 19).
The governor may convene the General Assembly at a location other than the seat
of government in times of pestilence or public danger (Iowa Code Title I, §2.1).
State officers and employees who are volunteer fire fighters or emergency medical
service personnel are entitled to a leave of absence for period of emergency response
without loss of status, pay, rights to action, sick leave, bonus, or other benefits. The
statute exempts temporary employees and essential personnel (Iowa Code Title II, §55.2).
An employee of an appointing authority who is a certified disaster service volunteer
may be granted leave up to 15 working days in each year to participate in disaster relief
services for the American Red Cross, without loss of seniority, pay, vacation time,
personal days, sick leave, insurance and health coverage benefits, or earned overtime
(Iowa Code Title II, §70A.26).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Iowa Statutes, with Citations
Iowa Code Title I, §29C.2
Iowa Code Title I, §29C.2
Local emergency management agency
Iowa Code Title I, §29C.2
Iowa Code Title I, §29C.2
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Iowa may be
searched at: [http://www.legis.state.ia.us/IowaLaw.html].