The United States House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee) introduced the “FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015” as H.R. 1471.
The key points of the proposed legislation will:
- Commission an assessment of trends in disaster losses—their causes and amounts—and recommendations that will result in the reduction of losses and increased cost savings.
- Provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) additional direction and authorization for key programs that help reduce the loss of life and property and speed recovery for those impacted by disaster, including:
- Authorizing FEMA through FY 2018, consistent with current funding levels;
- Authorizing the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Response System through FY 2018, consistent with current funding levels, and clarifying liabilities and compensation issues related to participants in the system; and
- Reauthorizing the Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC) Grants through FY 2018, consistent with current funding levels.
The legislation will also include policy changes that result in the more efficient and effective implementation of disaster assistance programs, as well as wise investments in mitigation:
- Raising the Public Assistance small projects threshold to $1 million to reduce administrative costs, expedite assistance, and help communities recover more quickly;
- Establishing rates to reimburse states and local governments for the administrative costs incurred to implement disaster recovery projects, providing a fixed cap to avoid uncontrolled administrative costs;
- Reinstating a 3-year statute of limitations on FEMA’s ability to reclaim funds, based on a change in policy determination, after an applicant has spent the funds on previously determined eligible projects and when there is no evidence of fraud, waste or abuse; and
- Clarifying mitigation activities related to wildfires and earthquakes.
I’ll keep you updated as we watch this legislation move through the process. We are also going to start a new section of our blog that will track updates to legislation related to Emergency Management. I’m hoping to get it up and running over the next few weeks.
Read the Full Bill’s Text: Here
Read the Press Release: Here
Download the act in PDF: Here