The4th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, November 9, 2006, at 1:00 PM, in Training Room C117, of the Transportation Cabinet Building. Representative Mike Weaver, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Elizabeth Tori, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Denise Harper Angel, Vernie McGaha, Daniel Mongiardo, Katie Stine, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Sheldon E. Baugh, Carolyn Belcher, Tom Burch, Bill Farmer, Mary Harper, Gerry Lynn, Fred Nesler, Steve Riggs, Tom Riner, Charles L. Siler, and Ancel Smith.
Guests: Alecia Webb-Edgington, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; LTG Maxwell Clay Bailey, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management; BG Norman E. Arflack, Secretary, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet; and Mary Hudson, APA.
LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Mustapha Jammeh, Tyler Campbell, and Rhonda Schierer.
Co-Chair Weaver called the meeting to order and led the members and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The minutes of the October 5, 2006, were adopted.
Co-Chair Weaver read a resolution in memory and honor of a Kentucky soldier who died in the war in Iraq: Specialist Timothy Adam Fulkerson. The resolution was adopted unanimously by voice vote.
Co-Chair Tori read three resolutions in honor of three members of the committee who will be leaving the Kentucky General Assembly: Representative Gerry Lynn; Representative Mary Harper; and Co-Chair Mike Weaver. All three resolutions were adopted by voice vote.
The annual report of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS) was then discussed with Executive Director Alecia Webb-Edgington testifying.
Executive Director Webb-Edgington thanked the committee for holding its November meeting at the Transportation Building. She stated that the goal of KOHS is to improve public safety in Kentucky. Ms. Webb-Edgington’s presentation focused on the 2006 Homeland Security Annual Report and the Homeland Security funding report.
Ms. Webb-Edgington told the committee that a series of grant conferences on how 911 agencies can get additional support from the grant pool established by 06 HB 656 were ongoing around the state. She acknowledged the committee’s support for providing $2 million to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet for the maintenance of the data network across the state for 911 first responders. Ms. Webb-Edgington pointed out that the state does not charge subscription fees to local agencies for access to the statewide data network. She added that the data network is already reaping benefits.
Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that the annual report is a reflection of what KOHS has achieved prior to 2006 in response to the strategic plan the committee had received. She told the committee that by the end of the year all first responders will have the ability to communicate via a tactical interoperability solution. First responder interoperability will be tested in a December exercise, and she will report to the committee on the outcome of the exercise.
Ms. Webb pointed out that the National Infrastructure Protection Plan covers about 17 sectors across the nation ranging from cyber-security to dams, bridges, railroads, etc. She stated that over the past two years, 120 community assessments were carried out under the Kentucky Community Preparedness Program. Ms. Webb-Edgington added that these assessments were done in a partnership with the Department of Criminal Justice Training. All the collected assessment information collected is stored in the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center for use by the state police or any other special response team. KOHS has joined with the Transportation Cabinet, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Kentucky State Police (KSP), Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement (KVE), and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDAT) to work on a project called Weighing the Risk. This involves the use of radiation detectors in weigh stations and portable radiation detectors for secondary roads. She added that they are working on ways to keep weigh stations open at all times.
Ms. Webb-Edgington said that the Buffer Zone Protection Program provides funding for the protection of critical sites in Kentucky that were selected by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She added that KOHS received $567, 000 to fund the program in 2006.
Ms. Webb-Edgington told the committee that the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center has representatives from KSP, KVE, Transportation Cabinet, Department of Corrections, Department of Military Affairs, FBI, ATF and DHS. The Fusion Center allows real time exchange and collection of information and intelligence among local, state, and federal agencies during man-made or natural disasters. She added that electronic reports can be submitted to the Fusion Center from the field via mobile data computers. Ms. Webb-Edgington also stated that Unified Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS) had been transferred to KOHS from KSP. UCJIS allows for issuance of electronic warrants and access to jail databases statewide.
Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that under the First Responder Exercise Program ten exercises were held last year based on the target capabilities list compiled by DHS. These exercises were in partnership with the Kentucky Fire Commission, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, Department of Criminal Justice Training, and the Department of Public Health. Over 30,000 responders were trained in the first responder training program. KOHS has been very active in getting the message out on strengthening citizen preparedness through the Citizen Awareness and Outreach Program.
Ms. Webb-Edgington gave the committee a break down of 2006 Homeland Security non-discretionary funds awarded to Kentucky: $8.52 million to the city of Louisville (Urban Area Security Initiatives); $464,660 to Louisville and Lexington (Metropolitan Medical Response System); $2,817,197 to the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management and the Department of Military Affairs (Emergency Management Grant); $567,000 for sites designated by the DHS as critical (Buffer Zone Protection Program); and $303,974 for the Citizen Corp Program. Non-discretionary funds come through her office but go directly to the intended recipients. This year local agencies in Kentucky submitted more than $108 million in funding requests. Discretionary funding was allocation based on the following criteria: SAFECOM report, which highlights interoperability and 911 as the state’s most pressing needs; mathematical calculations (application scores); and adherence to the federal government’s 80/20 (between local and state agencies) stipulation. In addition to the discretionary funds that were distributed by KOHS, local entities (cities/counties) and state agencies also received a total of $437,943,721.84 directly from DHS.
Representative Belcher asked if Northern Kentucky, because of its large population, is covered through the Cincinnati Urban Area Security Initiative. Ms. Webb-Edgington answered in the affirmative. She added that she was able to get $250,000 from DHS for Northern Kentucky, but her office has very little say on how that money is spent.
Senator Gibson stated that in the past two years four of the counties in his district did not receive any funding. He asked for the number of counties that did not get any funding. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that she will find out that information for him. Senator Gibson asked if it was common for counties not to get any funding if they do not meet the requirements to receive funding. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that grant applications that scored above average in areas they applied for were funded. There were counties that did not submit an application. Senator Gibson asked if some of those counties have received funding in the past. Ms. Webb-Edgington answered in the affirmative. She added that she planned to meet all members of the committee before the session to provide them with information on how counties in their districts faired relative to other counties.
Representative Nesler asked whether schools and other entities like places of work are being encouraged to be better prepared in case of man-made or natural disasters. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated she is currently working with the Center for School Safety, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Secret Service to look at the school assessments across the state. She said that school assessments are part of the Communities Preparedness Program. She added that they are talking with local officials on ways to create better vulnerability assessments. She also said that they are having a taskforce meeting on November 29, 2006, on the issue of school assessment. Representative Nesler asked if school evaluation is something that schools request and if it is mandatory for all schools. Ms Webb-Edgington stated that school systems are not mandated to participate, but so far, they have not been turned down by anyone concerning evaluations.
Representative Riggs asked if there are any procedures in place to prevent duplication of grants awarded to recipients. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that her office provides information on Federal Homeland Security grant awards that come through KOHS, to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management so that these agencies can cross-reference Federal Homeland Security grants with the grant requests they receive. She added that the federal government started working on a clearinghouse plan to cross check all grants awarded to prevent occurrence of duplication. Representative Riggs asked if the metropolitan areas with the highest vulnerability targets (Jefferson, Kenton, and Fayette) in the state will be getting police service from KSP under their new partnership with KOHS. Brigadier General Norman Arflack said that they are working on a plan with local officials that will reintegrate the Kentucky State Police troopers in Jefferson county and other areas as deemed necessary. He added that it is something they can’t do right now because of limited resources. Representative Riggs stated that it is important for KSP to have a line of communication open with the large metropolitan areas, because they are a part of the state. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that KOHS had asked all the large metropolitan areas to be active participants in the Fusion Center’s operations by either sending a representative or participating virtually. Brigadier General Arflack added that the computer forensics lab that was recently opened in Louisville also provides a partnership opportunity for all law enforcement agencies.
Senator Stine thanked the panelists for focusing on the needs of Northern Kentucky as the area does have drug problems and security targets including hospitals, bridges, waterworks, and the airport. She added that the closest KSP post is a 40 minutes drive away in Dry Ridge and urged them not to forget about protecting Northern Kentucky. Senator Stine asked if KOHS is communicating with the task force charged with assessing the security levels in schools and determining what risks may exist. She added that some of her constituents are concerned about cuts in federal funding for school resource officers in urban areas with higher crime issues in schools and asked if that funding is going to be reinstated. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated they are working with the U.S. Attorney’s office to see if there is another funding source for the school resource officers program. Senator Stine asked if it is possible for schools to have emergency buttons like the ones in banks. Ms. Webb-Edgington answered in the affirmative and added that KOHS has been looking at ways to make that possible together with the Center for Schools’ Safety.
Representative Burch asked if the communication equipment supplied to different communities is from a common vendor. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that KOHS specifies equipment standards but not a specific vendor. Representative Burch asked if there is any mechanism to ensure that all the communication equipment will work when needed. Ms. Webb- Edgington said that when they do their exercises they make sure that all equipment is operational. She added that her staff also conducts site visits to ensure that all equipment is working. Representative Burch asked if all communication equipment is connected to the statewide communication system. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that communities that receive Homeland Security funds for communication equipment are required to connect to the statewide system. Representative Burch asked what plans are in place to protect the people in the event of a dirty bomb attack during Thunder Over Louisville, the Kentucky Derby, or any other event of that kind. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that there is a comprehensive plan for such an attack, and a national strategic stockpile is also available to provide a thirty day cycle of medication to those affected. Representative Burch stated that he doesn’t think that the people are adequately prepared for such a situation. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that the goal of the Citizen Awareness Program is to better prepare the people for a disaster like a dirty bomb attack.
Representative Baugh stated that we need to be concerned with rural parts of the state just like the metropolitan areas. He added that terrorists can cause damage in rural areas that could result in considerable damage to urban areas.
Co-Chair Weaver asked if the use of subject matter experts in scoring grant applications is in response to the recommendations of the statewide single audit report that ended in June 30, 2005. He also asked where those experts come from. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that the use of subject matter experts is part of the audit implementation that started in June, 2006. The experts are from Fire, Police, Emergency Management, Commonwealth Of Technology, Emergency Medical Services, Academia, and State Police. Co-Chair Weaver asked if KOHS has satisfactory implemented all of the audit report’s recommendations. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that all of the audit report’s recommendations have been implemented by KOHS. Co-Chair Weaver asked if KOHS is confident that the same findings will not be recurring in the next audit report. Ms. Webb-Edgington said that she is confident that past findings pertaining to KOHS will not recur. Representative Weaver asked if the $300,000 given by DHS for the Citizens’ Corp and Citizens Awareness Campaign is enough for the program. Ms. Webb-Edgington answered no and stated that KOHS contributed an extra $900,000 to the program. Co-Chair Weaver asked if all first responders will be able to communicate via wireless and data interoperability by the end of 2006. Ms. Webb-Edgington answered in the affirmative and stated that data interoperability is complete, and they are finishing up with wireless interoperability.
Senator Mongiardo asked how electricity production can be affected in the event of a dirty bomb attack at Kentucky’s coal mines in Eastern or Western Kentucky. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that Emergency Management will be contacted in the event of any changes to the electrical grids detected at the Fusion Center. She added that they also have the capability to provide storage capacity and to transition to electricity in other forms or fashions. Senator Mongiardo asked how long it will take for mining to resume after such an attack. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that the Department for Public Health will determine the length of time before mining resumes based on the health implications of any such attack. Senator Mongiardo asked if there is a plan for alternative sources of energy supply in the event coal mines are attacked. Ms. Webb-Edgington stated that there is a backup in the form of generators and fuel sources like gasoline and diesel that can be used to fuel the generators. She added that all the communications towers do have backup generators that are checked once every three months to make sure they are working properly.
Lieutenant General Maxwell Clay Bailey, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, spoke next. General Bailey told the committee that the Emergency Management’s mission is to provide comprehensive, all hazards Emergency Management to Kentucky. He added that they come in when local emergency agencies are overwhelmed by a disaster or emergency. He said that his office tries to get federal funding to assist individuals who are victims in a disaster. General Bailey said that Emergency Management is organized in 14 areas across the Commonwealth, and he has one person working in concert with local emergency agencies in each of the 14 areas. General Bailey pointed out that over the last 12 months Emergency Management has responded to several disasters involving: COMAIR 5191 in Lexington; the Mississippi Queen on the Ohio River; chemical and fuel leakage from trains in Fulton and Catlettsburg respectively; and statewide flash floods. He added that they work in partnership with the Kentucky National Guard, State Government Agencies, Commercial Sector, Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board, and Volunteer Organizations. General Bailey said that his resource priorities are an overarching communications system and responder capability.
Co-Chair Weaver asked about the number of staff at the Division of Emergency Management. General Bailey said that he has a staff of 81, of whom 50 are in Frankfort and the rest is distributed across the other 13 areas around the state. Co-Chair Weaver asked how long it will take for the national strategic stockpile to be available after an attack. General Bailey said that it can be available very quickly since it primarily moves by air. Co-Chair Weaver asked how prepared are we for an earthquake. General Bailey stated that they are very prepared for the initial response as far as setting up and getting started are concerned. He added that the severity of an earthquake will determine the actual level of preparation. Co-Chair Weaver asked if Kentucky’s electrical grid supplies electricity to other states and if there is a backup electrical grid for the state. General Bailey said that Kentucky does supply electricity to others states but will have to find out from the officials at the Energy Department concerning backup electrical grids for the state.
Co-Chair Weaver announced that the committee has been invited to take a tour of the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center.
Representative Ancel Smith introduced Waylan Hunt, a United States Marine Corps soldier from Pike County who recently returned from Iraq.
The meeting adjourned.