Update on Legislative Session 2006
OEM Director Albert Ashwood joins Gov. Brad Henry in calling on the Legislature to fund the State Emergency Fund during a news conference at the State Capitol
Out of this year’s regular legislative session came two measures affecting Oklahoma emergency managers.
House Bill 2585, by Rep. Rex Duncan and Sen. Charles Wyrick, creates the Intrastate Mutual Aid Compact and goes into effect July 1. The bill establishes a statewide mutual aid agreement between local jurisdictions, thereby eliminating the need for written mutual agreements. All mutual aid is provided at the discretion of the providing jurisdiction. It should be noted that jurisdictions retain the option of providing mutual aid on a case by case basis. Moreover, any city or county wanting to opt out completely may do so by passing a resolution and forwarding the resolution to OEM. The new law also addresses torte liability, compensation and immunity for participating responders from cities, towns, counties and tribal entities.
HB 2585 also allows the Governor, through OEM, the ability to answer requests for mutual aid, in accordance with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), from other states and jurisdictions by requesting mutual aid resources from local jurisdictions in Oklahoma. If the local jurisdictions agree to provide the support, then their resources, personnel and equipment will become agents of the state. This will allow rapid deployment and will provide the local jurisdictions with state liability and compensation protection when deployed using the EMAC program.
Additionally, the new law meets the requirement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that all states institutionalize the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and adopt the Incident Management System (ICS) for all on-scene management of disasters and emergencies. This standardization of training and procedures will increase the efficiency of response by all agencies and organizations.
Senate Bill 1709, by Sen. Kenneth Corn and Rep. Glenn Smithson, requires each incorporated jurisdiction of the state to have an evacuation plan to evacuate all or a portion of the jurisdiction. Many of Oklahoma’s cities, towns and counties already have an evacuation plan as part of their Emergency Operations Plan. Now all cities, towns and counties will be required to have an evacuation plan and share with citizens how they would be notified should these actions be necessary. SB 1709 goes into effect Nov. 1, 2006.
Legislators also appropriated $15 million to the State Emergency Fund during this year’s Special Session.
The State Emergency Fund was created to pay for State Disaster Declarations (up to $100,000 per year per jurisdiction) and matches federal funding on Presidential Declarations. Currently, $14.3 million is owed to cities, towns, counties, schools, electric cooperatives and rural water districts. The Governor previously called on legislators to make an appropriation to the fund that will provide for the existing debt plus another $1 million for future disasters. OEM is now processing payments to the applicants owed the funds.