The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, July 9, 2009, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Elizabeth Tori, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Elizabeth Tori, Co-Chair; Representative Tanya Pullin, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Julie Denton, Carroll Gibson, Denise Harper Angel, Vernie McGaha, Joey Pendleton, Kathy W. Stein, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Linda Belcher, Dwight D. Butler, Mike Cherry, Larry Clark, Leslie Combs, Myron Dossett, Bill Farmer, David Floyd, Jeff Greer, Jimmie Lee, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, Sannie Overly, Tom Riner, Sal Santoro, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, Ancel Smith, John Tilley, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests: Dr. Richard Clover, Dean, and Dr. Ruth Carrico, Associate Professor, University of Louisville; Thomas Preston, Executive Director, and Gene Kiser, Director of the Grants Program, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
LRC Staff: Erica Warren, CSA; Mustapha Jammeh, Tiffany Opii, Clint Newman, Frances Jordan, and Rhonda Schierer.
Co-Chair Tori welcomed members and called on Representatives Belcher, Santoro, and Siler to read resolutions for fallen soldiers, Staff Sergeant Gary L. Woods, First Sergeant John D. Blair, and Corporal Lloyd Dale Stidham; who lost their lives in the global war on terrorism. She asked the committee to stand in a moment of silence in honor of the fallen soldiers. The resolutions were unanimously adopted by a voice vote.
Chair Tori welcomed Dr. Richard Clover, Dean, and Dr. Ruth Carrico, Associate Professor, of the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Dr. Clover and Dr. Carrico spoke on Pandemic Planning and Preparedness. Dr. Clover began a PowerPoint presentation by giving a brief overview of their preparedness activities, scope of collaboration, and future direction. He continued by discussing the mission statement of the Center for Health Hazards Preparedness and briefed the committee on the focus of the funding from 2002-2008. He stated that the funding was for training of approximately 30,000 healthcare workers and personnel. Kentucky and the U.S.
Dr. Carrico discussed current activities of the Center for Health Hazards Preparedness for 2009. She briefed the committee on the programs’ five projects which are: 1) pandemic planning and preparedness, 2) pandemic planning for the sentinel healthcare workforce, 3) severe influenza pneumonia surveillance network, 4) development of a near-real-time syndrome surveillance system in Kentucky schools, and 5) best practice guidelines for pandemic disaster response. She explained their collaboration network and stated that all projects are designed to operate within existing spheres of activities at the local and state level, specifically at the state level of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and the Kentucky Department for Public Health. All projects are overseen by a steering committee. She stated that the website www.kyflu.net is a good source for more detailed information. Dr. Carrico discussed the future direction based upon lessons learned from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and encouraged the members to go to www.prepareky.com for more information or to give input on the blog.
Co-Chair Tori asked about their current monies or grants. Dr. Carrico stated that they had received a grant for $2.3 million. Co-Chair Tori asked how many people were on the team. Dr. Carrico stated that there were 30 people on payroll and the $2.3 million also paid for supplies and travel to allow the team members to work on these projects.
Representative Moore stressed the importance of immunizations for virus prevention. Dr. Carrico agreed that vaccines are most effective.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked about emergency programs relating to communities emergency inoculation and evacuation, exercise, and evaluation programs, and if they have made efforts with KOHS to leverage MMRS dollars to enhance their program to promote this pandemic issue. Dr. Carrico said yes they have worked with MMRS and they work closely with Louisville Emergency Management Agency as well as hospitals across Kentucky. Representative Webb-Edgington asked as it relates to the Kentucky Department of Public Health; there are funding mechanisms from the Department of Homeland Security that are sometimes upwards of $20 million that have been dedicated to the public health issue directly. She asked Dr. Carrico if she knew this year’s dedicated amount of funding that went to the Department of Public Health just from the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Carrico said she did not.
Representative Pullin asked if current state laws on isolation are sufficient for the 21st century or if updating is necessary. Dr. Carrico stated that there is a lot of work to do to improve isolation and quarantine activities. She added that much of what they have is based on old issues such as TB instead of 21st century issues. Representative Pullin asked if the staff of the committee will look at their current isolation and quarantine laws and determine what to expect for H1N1 for the next 12 to 18 months in Kentucky. Dr. Clover stated that the H1N1 outbreak is an evolving story and one of the great aspects is that local health departments and the Center for Disease Control have been as transparent as possible in getting information out so that local communities can respond appropriately. He added that the good news relating to isolation is that the majority of people who have been affected have stayed home voluntarily. The challenge is more so on business continuity and that we need to look at how businesses can continue to do what they do and still let their employees stay home for the amount of time necessary.
Representative Riner asked Dr. Carrico when she thought their preparedness guide and other training materials would be ready. Dr. Carrico stated that their first deliverable materials are due August 4, 2009.
Senator Gibson asked about their grant if it is specifically for particular small communities. Dr. Carrico stated that the grant was for the needs of all of Kentucky. Senator Gibson asked about the urban areas and if there are similar type grant funds for them. Dr. Carrico stated that they are working to identify 5 or 6 communities across Kentucky willing to work with them.
Representative Belcher asked about the five pilot communities and asked if they have already been selected. Dr. Carrico stated that they are working with a couple of communities and they are open to suggestions of others.
Representative Clark stated that the state funds the poison center in Kentucky and asked Dr. Carrico if they collaborate with them. Dr. Carrico stated that they have worked with them on a number of sub-activities.
Co-Chair Tori welcomed Mr. Thomas Preston, Executive Director, and Mr. Gene Kiser, Director of Grants Program of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to give a presentation on the 2008 KOHS Grants.
Mr. Preston explained the role that KOHS has that is mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly and the United States Department of Homeland Security. He summarized the agency’s various missions and additional directions and tasks as outlined in his PowerPoint. Mr. Preston discussed different funding to include: State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), Citizens Corps Program (CCP) and the Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP).
Mr. Preston stated that the KOHS Grant Branch is currently managing $54,563,384 in active grants which includes 140 projects and 11 grant programs. He added that KOHS received 244 applications from 95 counties which represented total requests for $65,973, 827. They provided partial funding to 84 counties.
Mr. Gene Kiser briefed the committee on the grant process. He stated that KOHS had only $7.6 million allocated for equipment purchases and of that amount, 25% goes to law enforcement agencies and 25% goes to hazardous devices or bomb squads. Peer groups reviewed the process application process in 15 areas. The first thing they did was eliminate projects that scored a 60 or below which eliminated 50 local projects and 13 state projects. He stated that a minimum of the funds had to go to local agencies and 20% could go to other agencies. He added that 3% goes toward administrative fees. Then they cut the cost in half and determined they would take the highest scored application from each county unless they had a bomb squad. Once that process was completed the recommendations go to the Governor for the final approval.
Representative Floyd referred to a list in the annual report that appeared to be nondiscretionary grants asked why it is in their report. Mr. Preston stated that it is part of legislation that they gather that information.
Representative Cherry asked Mr. Preston about his comment regarding the high risk targets in Kentucky and what are Kentucky’s most vulnerable targets. Mr. Preston stated he would like to do that in private and would be glad to talk to any member privately. Representative Cherry asked Mr. Preston if KOHS considered epidemics, acts of nature, or simply anything that threatens Kentuckians, part of his job. Mr. Preston stated that bioterrorism or chemical terrorism is part of KOHS but they cannot interfere with emergency management with acts of nature. They can be a supportive role from the Kentucky Fusion Center for informational help.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked Mr. Preston about current funding. She asked if there was an opportunity to work hand in hand with the Justice Cabinet to disseminate and leverage funding mechanisms to better cover some of the areas rather than giving partial sources of funding and fully fund a system using COPS and BURN money in addition to LETPP and SHSP money. Mr. Preston stated that yes they would look into that suggestion.
Representative Lee asked about communications operability issues and stated that the ice storm was a vivid reminder of the need for radio system for all departments. Shelby Lawson, Deputy Executive Director, KOHS, stated that the hallmark of the system is built to accommodate all of the systems to include city and county and that yes, they will be able in the future to have communications with anyone in the state. He stated that they focus on 2 areas of communications, the voice and the wireless data communications in case one goes down or is taken out and a 3rd option is satellite phones.
Co-Chair Tori made note that Representative Lee’s question was relevant and should be addressed in detail at another meeting.
Co-Chair Tori asked Mr. Preston about KOHS’s legislative agenda for the January, 2010. Mr. Preston deferred to Mr. Lawson. Mr. Lawson responded that they have a request to extend and enhance the electronic and e-warrant system. Co-Chair Tori asked Mr. Preston how long it will take him to have this request for the budget and legislative agenda. Mr. Preston stated that under the circumstances of the state, they aren’t going to ask for money.
Senator Pendleton asked staff to look into the vans that take veterans to veteran’s hospitals as they have had a veteran unable to get to the hospital. Co-Chair Tori granted his request.
Co-chair Tori introduced and welcomed new staff members, Tiffany Opii and Frances Jordan.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.