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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 29, 2021 10:34 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Require Senate confirmation of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director
Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation requiring Senate confirmation of the PEMA Director.

Certainly, the COVID-19 health pandemic has broadened the scope of what can be considered a disaster under Title 35.  It has changed so many things, and only underscores the importance of having vetted, credible leadership in key positions in state government.  
The breadth and scope for the position of PEMA Director is greater now than ever before.  Natural or weather-related disasters, an outbreak of a disease or other health calamity in humans or an agricultural commodity, or a major law enforcement / public safety incident are examples of what this position may face. Any one of these matters can quickly and unexpectedly become the top priority for a community, a county, or the entire state. No one is immune from this possibility.

In many cases, all levels of government must coordinate the incident response and PEMA can be the lead agency. Similar to cabinet secretaries when their agency is at the epicenter of a major incident, PEMA then becomes the public’s source of information and de facto command central. Additional review of this individual will improve agency accountability and improve internal and external communication and coordination between the various levels of government when responding to emergencies. As modern government has evolved and for the above reasons, the PEMA Director should be nominated by the governor and confirmed by the full Senate identical to other agency leaders.

Previously, in the 2015-16 Session, this legislation passed both chambers only to be vetoed by the governor.  Now, more than ever, is the time for a thorough review of candidates seeking to fill this position, followed by a Senate confirmation vote.  
Co-sponsors of SB 512 were Senators Argall, Brooks, Langerholc, Phillips-Hill, Regan, Scavello, Stefano, J. Ward and K. Ward.

Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB461