State legislatures continue to adopt disaster policies in 2023
As the 2023 hurricane season officially begins, state legislatures have so far kept pace with related legislative activity from previous years. The disaster resilience bills passed so far reflect a range of topics that are both similar and divergent from the 2021-22 trends. These results, and the methodology behind them, can be viewed in a December issue report on the 2022 legislative session of Columbia Climate SchoolIt is National Disaster Preparedness Center.
By the end of April, 25 states had already passed 103 disaster resilience bills. West Virginia and New Mexico lead this group with 16 and 15 bills passed, respectively, about a third of all disaster bills, while North Dakota and the Utah follow with 11 and 10 bills, respectively.
At the time of this sampling (late April), 13 states — Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, South Dakota, Kansas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia and Virginia — had all adjourned their sessions. regular for the year. Other states are also adjourning at high speed this time of year, with at least 11 additional states having adjourned since April. That still leaves about half of the states still in session — including key disaster preparedness states like Texas, Florida, California, Hawaii and New York — so there’s plenty of time for additional legislative activity in states. coming months.
The disaster bills already enacted reflect an interesting snapshot of the 2023 legislative sessions. Consistent with last year, the National Disaster Preparedness Center’s funding, governance, and safety and security categories dominate until shows state policy trends on disasters, with 62%, 41%, and 35% of bills passed, respectively.
At least 16 states have also advanced 78 disaster bills past one chamber — a significant hurdle that bodes well for the chances of such bills being enacted or considered in future sessions. Of those states, six had not yet adjourned for the year.
In the 2023 legislative session so far, 22 states have enacted 64 bills related to earmarking or allocating funds for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. These bills represent nearly two-thirds of all disaster laws passed so far this session. Of these, 47 fund state agencies and programs, 30 relate to federal funding, 28 provide funding to counties and municipalities or other political subdivisions, 20 provide assistance to individuals or households, 18 finance resilience through cost-sharing and matching mechanisms, 12 provide financing to the private and non-profit sectors, and three relate to insurance mechanisms to finance disaster mitigation. For example, North Dakota adopted HB 1070a bill that would utilize the federal protection of tomorrow through continued risk mitigation (STORM) Legislation fund to establish a program offering low interest loans to counties and cities for projects that will reduce disaster risk.
Meanwhile, 14 states advanced 45 funding bills past a chamber this session, as states continue to deliberate on major funding packages often until the very end of the session.
So far during the 2022-23 legislative session, 15 states have enacted at least 43 bills related to changes in emergency management governance, including administrative, jurisdictional and reporting changes. Nearly half of all disaster bills enacted to date contain provisions on governance. Many states have created disaster recovery funds or redefined eligibility criteria. The governance bills largely overlapped with the category of safety and security, focusing on creating new agencies and new roles to improve the state’s disaster management capacity, reforming National Guard activation and intergovernmental cooperation in disaster operations. For example, West Virginia SB 128 limits and clarifies the powers of the governor during and when declaring a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, 11 states have passed 28 single-chamber governance bills.
Safety and security
So far, 15 states have enacted 36 bills this session related to safety and security and passed 25 bills by one house. These bills currently represent one-third of all disaster bills enacted into law and those passed by a single chamber. They generally aim to change the responsibilities, compensation and protections of disaster response and recovery personnel, as well as to create new categories of first responders and emergency managers to respond to new disaster risks. or high. This type of bill has gone from just 6% of disaster bills enacted last session to 25% so far this year. For example, Kentucky HB 157 creates and funds the Kentucky Urban Search and Rescue Program to expand state search and rescue efforts, in coordination with other state and federal response efforts.
Health and social services: Housing, health and medicine, food and water
Fourteen states have enacted 52 bills related to health and human services, meaning that half of the disaster bills enacted to date relate to health and human services. With 30 power and water bills, water reforms in particular dominated this category, many of which came from the New Mexico legislature. Some states in the Colorado River Basin have recently negotiated reductions in use due to drought. States have sought to address drought and water scarcity issues by passing legislation establishing agencies with primary responsibility for water resilience and establishing funds for water and agriculture projects to mitigate the increasingly common impacts of drought and forest fires. With 22 invoices, the health and medical category also accounted for a large share. While these bills focus on providing virtual health care services in emergencies and creating health-related disaster and crisis support teams, there was also overlap. with declared disasters or health emergencies. At nine bills, housing held the smallest portion. These bills mainly concerned the reliability of heating and air conditioning of buildings, the recovery of property after disaster and the establishment of construction criteria.
For example, Utah HB 150 allows the governor to declare a temporary water shortage emergency by executive order for causes other than drought, during which the state can seize water from farmers for drinking, sanitation, fire suppression, power generation and others.
Critical Infrastructure: Energy, Transportation, Communications
To date, 13 states have enacted 32 critical infrastructure resilience bills. These bills represent one-third of all laws passed in state legislatures so far this session. Of these, 16 relate to energy – including grid resilience, energy efficiency, which often overlaps with renewable energy investments. Fourteen bills contain transportation provisions, including resiliency improvements and expansions to existing road and highway infrastructure, investments in public transit, and maintenance of emergency and emergency evacuation routes. disaster supply. Additionally, 18 of those bills relate to communications systems, including upgrades to 9-1-1 services, communications equipment for first responders and emergency managers, and data security protections. for essential emergency communication technologies.
For example Washington HB 1329 prevents power outages for non-payment during extreme heat waves and requires utilities to offer payment plan options to low-income residents.
These results reflect trends seen last year as well as those reflected in 2023 pre-filed invoices; however, it will be interesting to watch how these trends evolve over the rest of the state’s legislative sessions. With approximately half of the states yet to adjourn (at the time of this sampling), we expect substantial activity on these issues in the months ahead.
Lucia Bragg is policy manager at the Columbia Climate School’s National Disaster Preparedness Center.
Abigail Menendez is an intern at the Columbia Climate School’s National Disaster Preparedness Center and a 2023 graduate of the Columbia Climate School’s Master of Climate and Society program.
Gillian McBride is a student employed at the Columbia Climate School’s National Disaster Preparedness Center and a 2023 graduate of the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs’ MPA in Energy and Environmental Policy Program.