Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2002-01-16 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2002-01-16                     Senate Journal                      Page 1952
SB 235                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 235 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                   
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
          "An Act relating to emergency and disaster relief                                         
          forces as state employees for purposes of workers'                                        
          compensation benefits; relating to the Emergency                                          
          Management Assistance Compact and the                                                     
          implementation of the compact; and providing for an                                       
          effective date."                                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs, Labor and                                
Commerce and Judiciary Committees.                                                                  
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, zero, Department of Military and Veterans'                                      
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 14, 2002:                                               
Dear President Halford:                                                                             
This bill I transmit today is part of a package of bills I am forwarding                            
to the Legislature to address Alaska's ability to respond to disasters                              
and emergencies. It would enact the Emergency Management                                            
Assistance Compact (EMAC), making Alaska the 43rd state to do so.                                   
The EMAC is a mutual aid agreement that facilitates inter-state                                     
assistance in declared disasters and emergencies, including man-made                                
disasters and civil emergencies as well as natural disasters. A party                               
state, through its authorized representative, may request assistance of                             
another party state in the form of personnel, equipment, materials, or                              
supplies for emergency functions such as fire services, medical                                     
services, transportation, or other necessities. The EMAC provides that                              
states shall honor requests for assistance, but may withhold resources                              
as necessary to ensure reasonable protection in its own state. The                                  
requesting state shall reimburse states rendering aid including actual                              
costs incurred and any losses or damages.                                                           

2002-01-16                     Senate Journal                      Page 1953
The EMAC addresses certain legal issues of common concern relating                                  
to emergency assistance. It provides that officers and employees of the                             
state rendering aid are considered agents of the requesting state for tort                          
liability and immunity purposes. An assisting state's officers or                                   
employees may not be liable for any good faith act or omission of its                               
forces or because of maintenance or use of equipment or supplies. This                              
provides officers or employees of another state coming to assist                                    
Alaska in a disaster the same immunity from liability afforded our                                  
employees and agents.                                                                               
Under the EMAC, each state pays compensation and death benefits to                                  
members of its emergency forces who are killed while rendering aid to                               
another state in the same manner and on the same terms as if they were                              
injured or killed within their own state.                                                           
The bill also updates state law so that an Alaskan civilian volunteer                               
performing emergency or disaster relief functions in another state                                  
under the EMAC, or at the request of our state division of emergency                                
services, is considered an Alaska state employee for workers'                                       
compensation purposes. The reenacted statute will control state                                     
liability for workers' compensation benefits by limiting eligibility to                             
those volunteers who are on a roster maintained by the division of                                  
emergency services.                                                                                 
Finally, this bill repeals the outdated Interstate Civil Defense and                                
Disaster Compact; its goals are being met under the EMAC.                                           
Enacting the EMAC will benefit the state by providing immediate                                     
access to additional trained and experienced emergency specialists and                              
other emergency resources nationwide during a disaster. It will further                             
benefit the state by providing for prompt reimbursement by the                                      
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the costs of                                          
emergency resources provided by other states to Alaska in the event of                              
a disaster. Presently, the state must negotiate an agreement with the                               
FEMA for reimbursement in each disaster.                                                            

2002-01-16                     Senate Journal                      Page 1954
I urge your support for joining EMAC, as most other states have done.                               
Tony Knowles