Rep. Mike Volz’s bipartisan legislation to help communities recover from disasters and emergencies heard in committee

Communities who suffer emergencies or disasters could soon be getting better access to relief thanks to a bill from Rep. Mike Volz. House Bill 1952, which had a public hearing on Friday, would require the Military Department to administer a program for long-term community recovery from an emergency or disaster.

The program would support counties and tribes by assisting with recovery planning, developing a recovery manual, issuing grants to create recovery groups, providing recovery training, and creating a resource directory.

“This is a noble effort to support our local communities by combining all our resources and efforts in the best way to help people after emergencies and disasters,” said Volz, R-Spokane. “Every community is different, and every disaster is different and unfortunately, we can’t predict the outcome of a disaster before it happens. So, this bill would help us better align our efforts and improve how we get relief to people when they need it the most.

“This matters to the communities in my district. In fact, the mayor of Medical Lake, Terri Cooper, brought this idea to me and I’m grateful that she was willing to come to Olympia to testify in favor of this bill.”

According to Mayor Cooper, the government is reluctant to give funding straight to long-term recovery groups because they are not legitimized. However, she said they are the proven model for resilient communities. She said the reason they work is because they get the dollars closest to where the problem is happening. And it gets the dollars in to the hands of the local people who need it to respond to disasters.

Under House Bill 1952, the Adjutant General would be required to prepare and administer a program for long-term community recovery from emergency or disaster. The program would assist county governments and federally recognized Indian tribes. It would also facilitate long-term community recovery by:

  • Assisting county and tribal governments with long-term community recovery planning.
  • Developing and updating a manual to facilitate long-term community recovery.
  • Issuing grants to counties and tribes to assist with the establishment and operation of long-term community recovery groups.
  • Providing training focused on long-term community recovery in cooperation with local organizations for emergency services or management.
  • Creating and updating a resource directory of state, federal, and international agencies, volunteer organizations, and service providers that might assist individuals and communities during long-term community recovery.

“We need this legislation, especially in our rural communities,” said Volz. “When disasters strike, we need to be prepared to assist everyone affected as efficiently and effectively as possible. This bill would truly assist those in need by helping to facilitate the creation of an organized plan and process for our emergency and disaster relief efforts.”

The 2024 legislative session began on Jan. 8 and is scheduled to run for 60 days.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov