Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) tonight introduced legislation that would redefine the federal homeland security funding formula to target billions of dollars toward high risk states and cities while ensuring that all states receive the resources needed to prevent and be prepared for potential terrorist acts. The Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act establishes a baseline level of funding that each state will receive while more than doubling the amount allocated to states and cities that are considered high-risk for terrorist attacks. It also streamlines the homeland security grant process in order to deliver federal homeland security grants to local first responders more efficiently and expeditiously.
Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), George Voinovich (R-OH), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Russ Feingold (D-WI) are leading co-sponsors of the bill. Senator Collins is the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“My bill guarantees that rural states will receive their fair share of federal homeland security dollars. Every state has vulnerabilities and each should be ensured a baseline level of homeland security funding to assure preparedness,” said Senator Collins. “At the same time, we need to distribute more funds according to risk and vulnerability to terrorist attacks. This legislation achieves both of these goals. It addresses the homeland security needs of small and rural states, as well as states with major metropolitan centers.”
Senator Collins’ legislation would also streamline the grant process to by requiring that states distribute at least 80% of the federal homeland security funds it receives to local governments and agencies within 45 days of receipt. It establishes a Homeland Security Information Clearinghouse – a one-stop shopping location – to provide states and local governments with the information they need on grant programs and the use of those federal dollars. The legislation directs DHS to create a national domestic preparedness training center to assist states in developing, maintaining, and adopting certifiable training standards for first responders. It also gives state and local governments greater flexibility to transfer state homeland security grant funds among different preparedness activities, such as training, planning, and equipment.
“The Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act would provide states with the predictable, steady stream of homeland security dollars they need to defend themselves from terrorist threats,” said Senator Collins. “It increases first responders’ and local officials’ input into how funding is spent, makes it easier to apply for federal grants, promotes flexibility in the use of homeland security funding, and protects programs that work, such as the FIRE Act.”
Senator Collins’ legislation was passed by the Senate last October as an amendment to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The Fraternal Order of Police, National Governors Association, and the Fire Chiefs Association have endorsed the key principles contained in this legislation.