Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Wednesday, September 28, 2005, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Cherry, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins, Julian Carroll, Carroll Gibson, Dan Kelly, Alice Kerr, Elizabeth Tori, and Ed Worley; Representatives Adrian Arnold, Eddie Ballard, Joe Barrows, Carolyn Belcher, Dwight Butler, Perry Clark, Joseph Fischer, David Floyd, Derrick Graham, J. R. Gray, Mike Harmon, Charlie Hoffman, Jimmie Lee, Gerry Lynn, Paul Marcotte, Lonnie Napier, Stephen Nunn, Jon David Reinhardt, Tom Riner, John Will Stacy, Kathy Stein, and Tommy Thompson.
Guests: Dale Shipley, Columbus, Ohio; General Maxwell C. (Clay) Bailey, Department of Military Affairs; Jack Donovan, Georgetown/Scott County Emergency Management Agency; Doug Hamilton, Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency; Ken Knipper, Campbell County Office of Emergency Management; Charles O'Neal, Anderson County Disaster and Emergency Services; and Andrew Cline, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
LRC Staff: Joyce Crofts, Betsy Johnson, Alisha Miller, Karen Powell, Stewart Willis, Clint Newman, and Peggy Sciantarelli.
The minutes of the July 27 meeting were approved without objection, upon motion by Representative Gray. Senator Thayer said that Representative Yonts requested that the minutes reflect that he could not attend today's meeting because he was asked to be present at a ceremony for a National Guard unit from his district that is being deployed to Iraq.
The primary focus of the agenda was emergency management at the federal, state, and local level. Senator Thayer introduced the first speaker, Dale Shipley, of Columbus, Ohio. Retired since January, Mr. Shipley served for 15 years as Executive Director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. In 1998, he was selected by President Clinton to serve as Director of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Region-5 in Chicago. He has also served as president of the National Emergency Management Association and chair of its legislative committee. A graduate of West Point, he served two tours in Vietnam and commanded the U. S. Army jungle operations training center in Panama.
Mr. Shipley presented an overview of emergency management. He referred the Committee to a document in the meeting folders, an excerpt from FEMA's "Principles of Emergency Management." He noted that it is an excellent paper which highlights hazard analysis and preparedness issues, addresses the need for an operations center to manage response operations, and focuses on mutual aid agreements and some of the many resources available to emergency responders. He discussed how emergency management has evolved from its origin as civil defense nuclear attack preparedness in the 1950s and subsequent to the 1979 establishment of FEMA under the Carter administration. He said new ingredients of emergency management are the prevention and detection of terrorism and an increased focus on health and environmental disasters. He went on to say that he is convinced this country is so rich that there is not a disaster that cannot be overcome if the system is working and all available resources are brought to bear. All states except Hawaii are signatory to EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact), which enables states to provide resources to other states in time of need. Hawaii will be considering EMAC during its next legislative session.
Historically, emergency management directors have "owned" small turf and limited equipment and tools for response capability. The key has been to develop plans to utilize the resources of local and state governments to their best advantage and ensure that owners of those resources are prepared to respond. Developing plans collegially is more important than what a plan says. In addition, the contributions of the private sector and the volunteer community are critically important. It is essential to train all responders and plan administrators and to exercise the plans.
Mr. Shipley said that one of the issues confronting emergency management and homeland security is how to integrate the separate offices—i.e., how to economize and avoid duplication of functions. He went on to say that interoperable communications is also a challenge for emergency management. Managers of resources must be able to talk to a central location. Supporting organizations, such as the public health departments, have been long neglected. A big increase in the capability and role of public health agencies has begun and is continuing. Security has always been a critical issue in disaster response but is now even more important for prevention. Management of security may be different in each state but should be looked at holistically. Coordination with the military at the state and federal level has always been critical to any governor's capability to respond. Attention should be given to VOAD, which is a consortium of recognized state voluntary organizations active in disaster relief—an excellent way to consolidate and coordinate all volunteer organizations. Tertiary organizations have resources that are critical to the state to respond effectively to a disaster. In addition, transportation is always a key issue.
Representative Stein asked Mr. Shipley whether he thinks state emergency preparedness plans and capabilities have been overshadowed by the focus on terrorism. Mr. Shipley said that the national focus on terrorist threats has probably been to the detriment of attention to other more common hazards. He said it may be necessary to go back and play "catch up" on the everyday business of disaster preparedness.
Senator Thayer thanked Mr. Shipley for his time and expertise. The Committee next heard from local emergency management officials from Louisville, Scott County, Campbell County, and Anderson County. First to speak was Doug Hamilton, Director of MetroSafe, the Louisville/Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.
Mr. Hamilton provided the Committee with the following handouts: "MetroSafe Executive Summary," fact sheet for 2006, and an organization chart. He said that MetroSafe has three basic functions—emergency management, communications services, and operation of a UHF/VHF/800 radio system and its infrastructure. He said that they perform the traditional five functions of emergency management—preparation, planning, mitigation, response, and recovery. The combined agencies have 214 personnel operating on a budget of approximately $12 million. MetroSafe is responsible for providing the radio services for metro Jefferson County police, fire, emergency medicine, local government radio works, parks, and solid waste management agencies. This includes answering approximately 600,000 "911" calls annually and an additional 800,000 administrative calls. MetroSafe is responsible for all communications in times of disaster, as well as communications for public works and other response agencies. Mr. Hamilton also discussed activities enabled by MetroSafe's receipt of a federal "all hazards" planning grant. He explained that half of the salaries for the agency's employees are reimbursed by the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency. MetroSafe maintains a current emergency operations plan, which is required to be refiled September 30 of each year. Mr. Hamilton said that he previously had a 30-year career in law enforcement. During his 18 months experience with MetroSafe, they have had to respond to several incidents which required coordination with Kentucky Emergency Management. He said he feels the relationship with the state agency is very beneficial.
Next to speak was Jack Donovan, Director of the Georgetown/Scott County Emergency Management Agency. He said that their department is small, with two full-time staff and 43 volunteers. They have two affiliate groups—a canine search and rescue team that answers directly to the EMA staff and an amateur radio team that handles backup communications in the event land lines and cell phones go down. There is a local emergency operations plan in place that is updated, reviewed, and exercised annually. They have a state-of-the-art emergency operations center. They maintain 23 severe weather sirens; 21 voice alert receivers in schools and public buildings; flood poles that are dispersed around the county; and warning signs near area dams. The community is designated as "storm ready." They conduct a bi-annual SkyWarn Weather Spotter training program for the community, and their recently begun Community Emergency Response Team has been successful. They also have worked with the school system to ensure that school buses are available if needed for evacuation. Their communications system has also addressed the need for interoperability.
The next speaker was Ken Knipper, Director of the Campbell County Office of Emergency Management. Mr. Knipper said he has been with Campbell County Emergency Management for eight years and has been actively involved in national, state, and local emergency planning. He said he sees homeland security (HLS) and emergency management as two distinct functions. He said HLS is a police function, whereas emergency management is a process function. While both require planning, training and exercise and have many common components, they require a different approach. He said that the legislature in 2005 passed HB 367, which established the vehicle for a disaster relief funding program, but that it must be funded to make it ready to work.
Mr. Knipper said he had recently participated in a conference call with Ohio and Indiana regarding securing the necessary legal and workers compensation protection needed by emergency responders who cross state lines without a state or federal disaster declaration. He said that Senator Katie Stine has prefiled legislation (BR 372) to address this issue. He went on to say that Kentucky needs to address funding. His budget for 2005 is $264,000, but emergency management program grants only provide about $30,000. The additional requirements of meeting emergency management issues and the addition of homeland security issues have required counties to increase staff and costs in order to meet the workload. In closing, Mr. Knipper commended his area manager, Rick Watkins, and emphasized that the counties need to have professional area managers available in order to assure quality plans and response capability.
The next speaker was Charles O'Neal, Director of Anderson County Disaster and Emergency Services. Mr. O'Neal said members of his staff are participating in the hurricane relief effort in Beaumont, Texas. He provided the members with a large packet of information entitled, "What is the state of readiness in rural Kentucky and the state of emergency management as a whole in the Commonwealth?" He said that the packet contains important information which he feels would be helpful to the members.
Mr. O'Neal said that readiness varies greatly in the Commonwealth and that some areas are poorly prepared to respond to even minor emergencies, partially because emergency management organizations do not take their responsibility seriously. He commended his three colleagues present today for their dedication and the example they have set for other emergency managers.
Mr. O'Neal said that the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management has plans on its web site that are available for use by local agencies. Unfortunately, some local agencies have chosen to use those plans in their generic form in order to meet the requirements of KRS 39B.010, but unless those plans are personalized at the local level, they are useless in times of emergency. He went on to say that post-"9/11" the focus has changed to responding to terrorist incidents. His chief concern, however, is the movement of hazardous materials through his community, since a main spur of the Norfolk Southern Railway divides the city. He said it is sometimes not realized that training for daily response is relevant to training for terrorist response. He noted that he is fortunate to have a competent and helpful area manager, John Bastin.
Mr. O'Neal said he believes there should be a state Office of Homeland Security but that it should be an arm of the Division of Emergency Management, rather than having two agencies that operate independently. He said that, in his estimation, HLS has overshadowed the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. HLS says they are in the business of coordination rather than response; in his opinion, however, KRS Chapter 39 clearly states that coordination, command, and control issues lie with the Division of Emergency Management. He said that monies supporting local programs have been cut at the federal level and that those funds need to be reinstated from either state or local sources. He added that local agencies should realize that they also are responsible for helping adequately fund their programs.
The local officials' presentations concluded and discussion followed. Representative Lee said that in his area, Hardin County, county responders have outdated equipment and have to go through multiple dispatchers. He asked the speakers whether interoperability is a problem for their agencies. Mr. Hamilton said that, effective September 1, 2005, MetroSafe can deal with the interoperability problem. He said that they have brought together all the former employees of Louisville Metro police communications, Louisville fire and rescue communications, the 911 operators from emergency management, and the local government emergency management radio personnel in one location, where they all now have the ability to link at the console level and are able to make 408,000 connections. He added, however, that both radio infrastructures in Jefferson County are 1970 models and are fragile. MetroSafe has a plan for solving this problem but does not have the $50 million it is expected to cost.
Mr. Donovan said that in Scott County all their communications are handled through a central location, and all the county agencies are using the same "1-800" system. He said that communication within the county is not a problem, and they are able to patch systems with neighboring counties. However, they usually provide one of the county's radios to state troopers or others who come into the county from state agencies. He said their system is new and that they are still building on it. It was funded partly from a fire grant through county government.
Mr. Knipper said that in northern Kentucky they received a sizable grant through Homeland Security and are in the process of letting a contract of approximately $3 million with Motorola for a system similar to that in Jefferson County. He said the dispatch centers will all be tied together by microwave, and the new system will add great capacity.
General Maxwell (Clay) Bailey, Director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, spoke from the audience. He said that, from a positive standpoint, the state has made major strides in the last three years in, at least, establishing standards. He said that when emergency response agencies buy new equipment, they are going to get equipment that will be interoperable across their jurisdictions. He said it is a matter of resources and that "they are not there yet," but if someone wants to know what equipment to buy, the standards are there. Representative Lee said the problem is that there is not adequate funding to make communications equipment work. Brief discussion followed regarding evacuation plans in Jefferson County.
Representative Stein asked whether the cost of cleaning up hazardous materials in homemade Meth labs is impacting local government budgets. Mr. Donovan said he thinks that local budgets are greatly affected. He compared the situation to incidents when spillers of hazardous materials on the highways leave the scene.
Representative Thompson said his county is large and needs—but does not have—a centralized dispatch. He asked whether most counties have a central dispatch. Mr. Donovan said it is a problem—most counties have multiple fire and police departments and may have a dispatcher for each department.
Representative Thompson asked who would be in charge in Anderson County if there were, for example, a tornado. Mr. O'Neal said that, depending on the level of response, in Anderson County it could be the chief of the primary emergency response agency, whether that be law enforcement, fire, or EMS. He continued on to say that emergency management assumes command and control when there are multiple agencies responding. There are contingencies in place for both the mayor and the county judge to declare a state of emergency if necessary, so as to enable assistance from sources that would not normally be available. Emergency management at the state level is available and has been used on numerous occasions for larger events. Mr. Hamilton noted that the eight counties in his region—including Anderson County—have been cross-training so that they can help each other.
Representative Arnold thanked the Co-chairs for bringing this issue before the Committee and said he thinks there should be follow-up in future meetings. He also spoke about the importance of the citizenry doing their part in disaster preparedness.
Representative Riner asked whether there is a plan to provide Louisville metro government leaders with backup radios in the event of a catastrophe during which land line and cell phones would go down. Mr. Hamilton said that the Motorola Motobridge allows all radio systems to be tied together and speak to each other at the same time and that any remaining cellular services could also be used as a radio. He said MetroSafe has a cache of approximately 100 radios—not enough to meet the needs of the 3,000 responders in Jefferson County. However, there are the technical capabilities to pull them together. He said MetroSafe is currently the only county emergency response agency that has satellite cell phones. Representative Floyd asked about the cost of the Motorola Motobridge. Mr. Hamilton said it will be an $8 million project, taking into consideration rehabilitation of the communications center.
Representative Floyd asked who determines the type of preparedness exercises performed in Anderson County. Mr. O'Neal said they have some choice in determining the type of exercises they conduct annually, but that, to some degree, this is dictated at the federal level. He said he thinks there should be a return to the "all hazards" approach once promoted by FEMA.
Representative Stacy asked whether thought had been given to studying strategic grouping of stream gauges in the state. Mr. Donovan described Scott County's flood pole system, which, he said, was installed after the 1997 flood and has been very helpful. Representative Stacy and Mr. Donovan noted that there is more up-to-date flood warning technology available but that it is very expensive.
Senator Blevins asked about evacuation plans for jails and prisons. Mr. Knipper said that in Campbell County the jailer is included in emergency planning discussions and that they have recently decided to take a hard look at planning and exercising for such a possibility.
Senator Thayer thanked the speakers for their service to the Commonwealth and for their time before the Committee today. The Committee next heard from General Maxwell (Clay) Bailey, Director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (Department of Military Affairs).
At Senator Thayer's request, General Bailey discussed his background. He also furnished a handout: a color map outlining Kentucky's 14 emergency management area offices.
General Bailey said that the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (EM) still has an "all hazard" approach and is Kentucky's response capability in an emergency. He said, though, that from an organizational standpoint, the first responders will be at the local level. Beyond that, all the resources of the federal government can be brought to bear if needed. He said there are 71 EM personnel. Of those, l1 are oriented in the chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program; they are paid by the federal government and coordinate local efforts in the event of an emergency incident at the Richmond Bluegrass Army Depot. Search and Rescue is another specialized function. Kentucky has achieved national recognition for its Community Crisis Response Board, which provides mental health triage and counseling.
General Bailey provided details about Kentucky's response at the state and local level to recent hurricanes Katrina and Rita and judged the state's response as outstanding. He said that, as a result, Kentucky is better prepared than ever. He went on to say that the emergency operations plan is good and is a model for local jurisdictions. The National Guard has an all-hazard response capability, and there are contingency plans for 16 Kentucky State Police posts. Guidance is provided by the national response plan of the Department for Homeland Security. The Department of Criminal Justice Training runs a community preparedness program that provides training and funding to assist communities in identifying and correcting shortfalls. The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security's intelligence fusion center is well underway toward completion.
General Bailey said he feels there is a need for more focus on exercises dealing with natural disasters. He said that since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1998, the primary focus has been on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, at the expense of planning and preparedness for natural disasters. He said that evacuation plans for Louisville and Lexington are good, but that is not so in other places around the state. He said that volunteers are a critical element of emergency response. Also, a critical part of emergency planning must focus on preparedness by individual citizens.
Regarding flood warning, General Bailey said that Kentucky maintains existing rain gauges—which are used more as a calibration tool for radar—but that he personally believes that their value has been surpassed by GIS/GPS technology. Representative Stacy said he agrees and that the future lies with GIS and the new GPS technology called height modernization.
Representative Gray said the bottom line comes down to communications. He asked whether there is an effective means for protecting the state's antenna systems. Mr. Hamilton said that MetroSafe has a diagnostic center in the radio communications shop, which monitors their antennas. General Bailey said that standards for communications equipment now include interoperability. He said that at the state level they have gotten away from "stovepipe" systems and are working toward standards at the local level. He also discussed the state communications system in more detail. Mr. Knipper said that a state assessment showed that the antenna system in his area is very vulnerable. He said that, as a result, they have spent an exorbitant amount of time working with ham radio. They have coordinators in each county and have been able to get these people involved with the community emergency response teams.
Representative Cherry asked about earthquake preparedness in the New Madrid Fault region. General Bailey said that he and his counterparts in the contiguous states belong to the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, which is doing a lot of planning. He said there will be a "situation of national significance" major exercise in the spring of 2006, during which decision makers at the national level will focus on the earthquake problem. He said that if an earthquake broke Kentucky's interstate highway system, this would cause a problem beyond what could possibly be planned for; if that happened it would be absolutely catastrophic. He added that state emergency management has the right contacts and is exercising the correct way in order to test individual capabilities. However, it would be up to entire communities to take control of the situation.
Representative Marcotte asked how the assessment teams are funded. Andrew Cline, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, was present and said that that program is the Community Preparedness Program and is funded through federal Homeland Security dollars. He said they have completed 60 communities, and 30 more are scheduled for the upcoming year. Beyond that timeframe, it will depend on Homeland Security funding. Senator Thayer asked Mr. Cline to provide committee staff with a list of the 60 communities already enrolled in the program. Mr. Cline said he would do so. He explained that the new Director, Major Edgington, will decide which communities are chosen for future assessments.
Representative Belcher asked whether freeing up analog communication bands when systems convert to digital will provide any relief. General Bailey said he does not have that data immediately available and will have to get back with Representative Belcher. Discussion followed on runway requirements for a major airlift.
Representative Lee asked whether there will be a report to the Appropriations & Revenue Committee on funds needed to address weaknesses revealed by the community preparedness assessments. General Bailey said he does not believe the program is that far along; it is basically identifying needs. He added that the vision has been to work through the grant process rather than state revenue. Representative Lee said he believes it is important for legislators preparing the budget to understand what the state's needs are for supporting the emergency management system. General Bailey said that would be addressed as the documentation becomes available.
Senator Thayer said he is concerned about the level of local preparedness in rural and sparsely populated counties. He questioned how they comply with the statute that requires them to enact an emergency operations plan. General Bailey said that many of the emergency managers around the state are volunteers. He said the generic plans on the EM web site provide some guidance but that preparedness in those counties is a matter of local priorities. Senator Thayer noted how the recent hurricanes on the Gulf have raised awareness. He asked whether Kentucky's statutes need to be strengthened to ensure that all 120 counties are prepared. General Bailey said that it would be a good idea to look at the statutes. He said there is some discretionary money available that can be augmented at the local level to help address local planning. Senator Thayer asked General Bailey to let the Committee know what it can do to help the state become better prepared.
Mr. Shipley said he would encourage the Committee to require answers to their questions. He said preparedness is an ongoing effort and that he is proud of the Committee's efforts.
Senator Thayer thanked General Bailey and all the speakers. He said he feels much better now about Kentucky's state of preparedness than he did before today's meeting. General Bailey complimented Messrs. Hamilton, Donovan, Knipper and O'Neal and said that they are known to be well qualified emergency managers. He said he has confidence in the way Kentucky's emergency management process has worked and feels that the state is better prepared now than even one month ago.
Next on the agenda was a subcommittee report from the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs. Representative Clark briefly reported on the July and September meetings of the Task Force. The Committee accepted the report without objection, upon motion by Representative Belcher.
Senator Thayer called attention to a transmittal in the meeting folders: the annual report of the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee. Business concluded, and the meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m.