New first responder legislation passed
| 05.16.2005 | 10:34:19 | Views: 2867 | ID:
May 16 '05: The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new spending requirements for states and their first responder programs, adjusting an older formula that gave some rural states more funding per capita than others. The Associated Press reported last week that acting on recommendations from the 9/11 commission, the House voted 409-10 in favor of what Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) called and end to wasteful spending.
The legislation is a risk-based formula that "would reduce the minimum percentage of money that states get from the Homeland Security Department," the AP wrote. "The reduction would not be as severe for states that border another country or face an international body of water."The bill would also "require that states have long-term plans for proper spending of their share." In previous years, many states with smaller populations and less-developed urban areas were receiving large sums of federal money, relative to areas like New York City and Los Angeles. In one case, the state of Alaska had more than $2 million in extra spending money. In a related story, the Department of Homeland Security announced last week that its new port security initiative would be based on the risk level formula "to allocate funds to protect our ports from acts of terrorism." The DHS statement said that the funding would be targeted at security measures like; protection against threats from small aircraft, underwater attacks and boats and other vehicles laden with explosives. AnOrange Country Register story reported in the Kansas City Star reported that Congressman Cox said of the new funding: "The question if not whether or not we're putting in enough money. ... The question is whether the money is making it to the front lines and whether it's being spent in a way that makes us more prepared. Unfortunately, the answer to that is not always yes." The Register reported that the new bill would "require more planning before states receive funding for emergency agencies" Additionally, a "First Responder Grant Board, composed of homeland security officials, would determine risks for individual states." The board would evaluate risks such as "threats, vulnerabilities and the consequences of a terrorist attack to critical infrastructure and the population." Initially there had been friction from some lawmakers from predominantly rural areas because of what they saw would be a reduction in the amount of federal funding. The result, some argued, would be that those areas would not be as protected as areas which would receive greater sums of money. Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) told the Register, "This bill say's we're just going to gamble that terrorists are going to strike in one of two dozen or so locations. ... It's better to try to get out first responders around the country trained and equipped as best as we can." Under the new House bill, each state would get grant money based on a risk formula. Then, any state that did not get "at least .25 percent of the total grant money available would get an additional allocation to ensure they received at least .25 percent. States with international borders would be guaranteed at least .45 percent."
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