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Emergency Management 1


Recommendation

The Emergency Management Council’s and Governor’s Task Force on Homeland Security’s review of the state’s Emergency Management Plan should include all recommendations necessary to ensure the state’s capacity and flexibility to prevent, mitigate and respond immediately to disaster situations.



Summary

The governor chairs the state’s Emergency Management Council (EMC), which includes 30 state agencies, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The council’s mandate is to develop, maintain and implement the state’s Emergency Management Plan.[1] In addition, the governor recently appointed a 21-member Task Force on Homeland Security to coordinate with the new federal Homeland Security Office. This task force includes members of the Legislature, experts, local authorities and state agencies. Both the council and the task force have been reviewing the plan in light of the events of September 11.

In reviewing the plan, the state should focus on assessing the risks of terrorist, biological and chemical attacks on the state’s infrastructure. The state should place particular emphasis on: major Texas ports and shipping waterways; critical roadways and bridges; natural gas, oil and liquid pipelines; refineries, chemical plants, power generation facilities and municipal water supplies; communication centers and systems; food supply and distribution systems; and large facilities and government buildings. The plan should also address the prevention, mitigation and response to these threats, whether through mutual aid associations; local volunteer and firefighting units; local, state and federal agencies and law enforcement; and military units. The state should consider the redundancy and recovery capabilities of this infrastructure when prioritizing risks. State authorities, including state agencies, as well as local authorities, should review and revise their evacuation plans. State and local authorities should consult with businesses that are at risk of attack, and the state should consider either adding business representation to the state’s Task Force on Homeland Security or ensuring business input.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has developed a list of potential actions that state executives and legislatures could take in response to this new crisis.[2] In line with these and similar state actions, the state should consider using state employees as a potential emergency and volunteer workforce. The state should review security for state buildings and state-sponsored events and require emergency plans for all state agencies to ensure the continuation of state business after a disaster of any proportion. The NCSL list included a reference to the development of additional secure laboratories by several states that can isolate, test and identify organisms such as anthrax, plague and smallpox. The state also needs to consider the availability and viability of water, utilities and emergency fuel supplies. In addition, the state should develop a more comprehensive list of assets available to assist in mitigating national and state emergencies and disasters, take measures to protect these assets and develop alternatives should these assets become unusable.


Fiscal Impact

The council and task force are currently in the process of reviewing the plan. Adding or emphasizing certain areas of risk, as well as making and implementing certain recommendations, may not require additional funding or statutory changes beyond the amount already available.

However, any reviews, recommendations or implementation activities that require statutory changes or additional funding that the council or task force cannot accomplish through budget execution or other non-legislative means, such as grants, would require a special session of the legislature for the state to implement them immediately.

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[1] TEX GOV’T CODE ANN. §418.013.

[2] National Conference of State Legislatures, “Protecting Democracy: Legislative Action,” October 9, 2001: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/press/2001/usaattack.htm