|Posted:||February 15, 2023 09:06 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 broadened the scope of what can be considered a disaster under Title 35, and 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, with PEMA serving as 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. At least six state agencies with fewer employees than PEMA require Senate confirmation, including the recent addition of the State Fire Commissioner with passage of Act 91 of 2020.
The immediate-past governor vetoed this legislation, but there is hope the new administration will better understand the importance of a thorough review of candidates seeking to fill this position, followed by a Senate confirmation vote.
Co-sponsors of SB 461 were Senators Argall, Brooks, Langerholc, Martin, Phillips-Hill, Pittman, Regan, J. Ward, and Yaw.
Thank you for your consideration.
Introduced as SB433