Mar 11, 2013

Maine legislature votes to merge MEMA with Homeland Security, check dams less often

LD 326 An Act To Update the Maine Emergency Management Laws changes the role of the Maine Emergency Management Agency  by linking its Homeland State Security efforts with the federal Departmernt of Homeland Security.  Listen to the public hearing and the work session below.

It had a public hearing on March 4th,  and  was "approved as amended" at its work session on March 11th by the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Curiously, LD 326 strengthens response to terror actions but reduces natural disaster prevention If LD 326 is signed into law, County Emergency Management directors, like Waldo County EMA's Dale Rowley, would be deputized into the Department of Homeland Security and given terror-fighting authority - in effect a license to imprison and as necessary kill Mainers and people from Away, if directed by Homeland Security officials that the Maine Homeland requires their immediate removal.  Maine "emergency management forces" will  have immunity from liability for their actions during that emergency according to the bill.

LD 326 relaxes oversight of dams. It changes  dam hazard evaluations  from every 6 years to  every 12 years It changes the  inspections of  high and significant hazard dams from at least once every 4 years to at least once every 6 years.

AUDIO at the public hearing on the bill: Waldo County Emergency  Management director  Dale Rowley  testified in support (mp3)  (3 minutes; only recorded the last few minutes of his testimony at end of hearing). 
AUDIO of the bill's work session was 3 min 43 seconds listen here.

Written testimony was also given by Robert McAleer, head of MEMA. The bill was approved as amended.

Bill Summary 
1. Amends the Maine Emergency Management Act to include in its purposes coordination of homeland security;
2. Enacts definitions of "homeland security" and "terrorism";
3. Adds to the duties of the Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency certain planning and training and the maintenance of the State Emergency Operations Center. It also requires that public education programs include information about prevention of emergency situations;
4. Designates the Commissioner of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management as the Governor's homeland security advisor;
5. Changes the name of the Disaster Relief Fund to the Disaster Recovery Fund to more accurately reflect the fund's purpose to support long-term community disaster recovery;
6. Clarifies local and state emergency planning requirements and ensures current national standards are followed;
7. Provides that emergency management forces deployed under either the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and the International Emergency Management Assistance Compact are considered state employees for the purposes of immunity from liability and workers' compensation coverage. It specifies that a person holding a valid professional license in the State may be designated a member of the emergency management forces in that profession after verification of current license;
8. Consolidates in one subchapter language governing situation-specific operational plans and adds general language governing any agency-specific emergency plans;
9. Changes the general dam hazard evaluation requirement from at least once every 6 years to at least once every 12 years and changes the time frame for hazard evaluations from within 30 days of a request to within 60 days of a request; and
10. Changes the dam condition inspection frequency of high and significant hazard dams from at least once every 4 years to at least once every 6 years.

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