Below are some of the major pieces of legislation influencing the emergency management profession and how we prepare for, mitigate against, and respond and recover from all emergencycies, disasters, and threats to the homeland. While a complete list would be voluminous, these provide the foundation of our nation's emergency management and homeland security framework.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (The Stafford Act)
The Stafford Act, PL 100-707, signed into law November 23, 1988; amended the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, PL 93-288. This Act constitutes the statutory authority for most Federal disaster response activities especially pertaining to FEMA and FEMA programs. The Stafford Act is the principal legislation governing the federal response to disasters within the United States. Among other issues, the act spells out how disasters are declared, types of assistance available, and cost sharing arrangements between federal, state, and local governments. The Stafford Act establishes two incident levels emergencies and major disasters. The legislation addresses the following priorities: (1) Revising and broadening the scope of existing disaster relief programs; (2) encouraging the development of comprehensive disaster preparedness and assistance plans, programs, capabilities, and organizations by the States and local governments; (3) encouraging hazard mitigation measures; and (4) providing Federal assistance programs for both public and private losses in sustained disasters.
The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2K)
DMA 2K (Public Law 106-390) provides the legal basis for FEMA mitigation planning requirements for State, local, and Indian Tribal governments as a condition of mitigation grant assistance. DMA 2K amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act by repealing the previous mitigation planning provisions and replacing them with a new set of requirements that emphasize the need for State, local, and Indian Tribal entities to closely coordinate mitigation planning and implementation efforts. The requirement for a state mitigation plan is continued as a condition of disaster assistance adding incentives for increased coordination and integration of mitigation activities at the state level through the establishment of requirements for two different levels of state plans. DMA 2K also established a new requirement for local mitigation plans and authorized up to 7 percent of HMGP funds available to a State for development of State, local, and Indian Tribal mitigation plans.
The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA)
On October 4, 2006, the President signed into law the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act. The Act established new leadership positions within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), brings additional functions into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), creates and reallocates functions to other components within the Department, and amends the Homeland Security Act in ways directly and indirectly affecting the organization and functions of various entities within DHS. In addition, the Department made certain other organizational changes outside of FEMA which complement the changes mandated by Congress. Together these changes aimed to strengthen the Department's ability to prevent, prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from all hazard threats. The changes that the Department made took effect on March 31, 2007.
The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act transfers, with the exception of certain offices listed in the Act, functions of the Preparedness Directorate to the new FEMA. This transfer includes: The United States Fire Administration (USFA); The Office of Grants and Training (G&T); The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Division (CSEP); The Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program (REPP) and; The Office of National Capital Region Coordination (NCRC)
The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Commission Act)
The 9/11 Commission Act (Pub. L. 110-53) amended section 1016 of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) and amended the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand the scope of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) to include explicitly homeland security information and weapons of mass destruction information; to formalize many of the recommendations developed in response to the President’s information sharing guidelines, such as the creation of the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group and the development of a national network of State and major urban area fusion centers; and to require the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security State, Local, and Regional Fusion Center Initiative to establish partnerships with state, local, and regional fusion centers.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an executive department of the United States, headed by a Secretary of Homeland Security to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The department was established to: (1) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; (2) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; (3) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that occur within the United States; (4) carry out all functions of entities transferred to DHS; (5) ensure that the functions of the agencies and subdivisions within DHS that are not related directly to securing the homeland are not diminished or neglected except by a specific Act of Congress; (6) ensure that the overall economic security of the United States is not diminished by efforts, activities, and programs aimed at securing the homeland; and (7) monitor connections between illegal drug trafficking and terrorism, coordinate efforts to sever such connections, and otherwise contribute to efforts to interdict illegal drug trafficking. The act vested primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism in Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with proper jurisdiction except as specifically provided by law with respect to entities transferred to DHS under this Act. The Act also outlined the organizational structure of the department and clarified political and career positions within the new structure.