Sunday, October 27, 2013

HR 3300 Introduced – FEMA Authorization

As I mentioned in an earlier post Rep. Shuster (R,PA) introduced HR 3300, the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill provides for funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency through 2016 at a flat annual rate of $972,145,000 {§101}, down from the FY 2013 funding of $973,118,000. There is not much else in this bill.

Section 102 does provide for the modernization of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. The language roughly parallels that found in HR 3283 that I have previously discussed. There are a number of editorial differences that might be of interest to lawyers, but nothing that appears to be of consequence beyond the fact that this version does not actually amend the Homeland Security Act. That means that the provisions and requirements laid out here would remain fairly buried and out of general public notice once this becomes law.

Section 201 reauthorizes the Urban Search and Rescue Response System; adding §327 to Title III of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 USC 5141 et seq.). It makes some HR changes to the way individuals appointed to the system are placed into limited Federal Service to allow “for the participation of the System member in exercises, preincident staging, major disaster and emergency response activities, and training events sponsored or sanctioned by the Administrator” {§327(f)}.

Section 202 reauthorizes FEMA to make grants to provide for implementation of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. FEMA is authorized to make grants totaling $2 million each fiscal year through 2016. The funds would remain available until expended.

As usual, I am disappointed that there is no mention of any FEMA responsibility for working with State or Local Planning Committees on emergency response planning for accidental or deliberate chemical releases. LPCs and their State counterparts are required by EPA rules, but there is no funding or oversight provided for these organizations that should be an integral part of planning for potential chemical disasters. Realistically, that type of grant funding or program oversight belongs under FEMA.

Congress has not passed a FEMA authorization bill since 2006. This bill looks like it has avoided any of the controversies that have impeded consideration of past bills. Rep. Shuster is Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which is the only committee to which this bill has been referred. Rapid action within the Committee is expected, but we will have to wait and see how quickly it makes it to the floor.

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