Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on Thursday, July 14, 2016, at 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Will Coursey, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Albert Robinson, Co-Chair; Representative Will Coursey, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Perry B. Clark, C.B. Embry Jr., Ernie Harris, Gerald A. Neal, Dennis Parrett, Whitney Westerfield, Mike Wilson, and Max Wise; Representatives Linda Belcher, Regina Bunch, Larry Clark, Tim Couch, Myron Dossett, David Hale, Kenny Imes, James Kay, Terry Mills, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Tom Riner, Rita Smart, Jeff Taylor, and Russell Webber.
Guests: Richard W. Sanders, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police; Michael E. Dossett, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management; Brigadier General Steve Bullard, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs; and Mike Sunseri, Executive Advisor, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
LRC Staff: Erica Warren, Jonathan Philpot, Lesley Nash, and Rhonda Schierer.
Senator Carroll moved to approve the June 9, 2016, meeting minutes. Senator Parrett seconded the motion. The motion carried with a voice vote.
Kentucky State Police
Commissioner Richard W. Sanders, Kentucky State Police (KSP), stated that he was sworn in as the new Commissioner on April 1, 2016. He gave a brief overview of previous positions he has held that he feels will help him in the position as Commissioner of the KSP. He stated that his mission is to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and to make the agency better. Commissioner Sanders stated that he was previously a federal agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency and served as the Chief of Police with the Jeffersontown police department for nine years.
In response to a question from Senator Carroll regarding pay and strength in numbers of state troopers, Commissioner Sanders stated that he appreciates the raise and pay scale that was given to the troopers by the General Assembly but is concerned about the rest of the KSP workers including the lab technicians, dispatchers, and clerks, who have not had a raise in years. He stated that the KSP has approximately 1,100 state troopers and that numbers have not increased in years. In response to the senator’s further question regarding the serious drug problem in Kentucky, Commissioner Sanders stated that he has spent most of his career working against drug cartels, and while he believes that enforcement and focusing on cartels bringing drugs into the state are important parts of the solution, he also believes that the KSP should not forget those who are addicted to drugs and should recognize that the addiction is an illness. Commissioner Sanders discussed a program called the Angel Initiative, modeled on a program in Massachusetts, which helps people detox and get treatment before they begin a life of crime and enter the legal system. He stated that the KSP needs to focus on traffickers and those committing serious crimes, but also must help those in need who need access to treatment facilities. He stated that finding available beds, program cost, and insurance coverage are some of the problems encountered.
In response to a question from Senator Carroll, Commissioner Sanders stated that statutory change is not needed to implement the Angel Initiative statewide. He stated that similar to a person being placed in a drunk tank to clean up, the KSP would have a choice to place a person in jail or destroy drug evidence voluntarily brought in and work with courts to find a healing place for them.
In response to a question from Representative Riner regarding safety concerns at the GOP convention, Commissioner Sanders stated that the KSP is always prepared to help but KSP is not sending extra enforcements to the national GOP convention.
In response to a question from Representative Taylor, Commissioner Sanders stated that reinvesting seized assets is controversial, but that they can be useful in fighting crime.
In response to a question from Senator Parrett, Commissioner Sanders stated that the KSP has an antiquated radio system that no longer has easily obtainable parts, the entire system will expire by 2017-2018, and will be very expensive to replace. Chairman Coursey suggested that Commissioner Sanders might want to speak to Representative Martha Jane King who chairs a task force looking into interoperability issues.
In response to a question from Chairman Coursey, Commissioner Sanders stated that there is a disparity between Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) and KSP officers pay, but that CVE’s do not do the same job as the KSP officers; however, CVE are important and are woefully underpaid and understaffed. He is hoping to get CVE staff the raises they deserve.
In response to a question from Representative Kay, Commissioner Sanders gave an update on the KSP cadet class. The 23 week course started nine weeks ago with 65 cadets and 41 cadets remain in the class.
Kentucky Division of Emergency Management
Michael E. Dossett, Director of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM), gave a PowerPoint presentation. Mr. Dossett stated that the vision of the KYEM is a resilient Commonwealth that is safe, secure, and prepared for emergencies and disasters through mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery by a dedicated and professional emergency management team. Their mission is to protect and restore the Commonwealth. This presentation is all a part of the official record in the Legislative Research Library.
Mr. Dossett stated that there are 10 administrative regions, each comprised of 10-14 counties within the Commonwealth. Within the PowerPoint presentation, is a map outlining those regions along with each one’s representative, address, and phone number. The KYEM personnel has a total of 79 staff that cover all aspects of emergency management assistance, public assistance, individual assistance, fiscal administration, hazard mitigation, volunteer coordination, the chemical stockpile emergency program, the emergency management performance grant, area managers/assistants, search and rescue/hazmat, training, planning, executive staff, IT Support, and 24 hour warning/duty officers.
Mr. Dossett stated that the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has had 31 SEOC activations from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, and 7,502 total incidents during that time. Most typical incidents reported have been fire, rescue responses, HazMat, and vehicle accidents.
Mr. Dossett gave a KYEM training and exercise summary from July1, 2015 – June 30, 2016. KYEM hosted 175 classes, provided 51,092.5 hours of classroom and hands-on training, and trained 3,341 first responders across the Commonwealth. The program expenditures for FY 2016 are $69,434,608.
From 2008 to the present, the total revenue for disaster declarations for all programs totaled $813,368,072. There have been 10,000 projects worked through FEMA, 16 federal declarations, and mitigated hazards. The mitigated hazards include dam failure, drought, earthquake, flood, sinkhole/landslide, severe storm, severe winter storm, and tornadoes. The hazard mitigation grant awards totaled $170,113,822.
Mr. Dossett explained the anatomy of a disaster declaration. He stated that the state verifies and reports damages, including joint damage assessments, which must exceed $6.12 million by local, state, and FEMA teams. The steps in determining a disaster declaration are: (1) the preparation of the governor’s request for declaration, which must be submitted within 30 days and must demonstrate the event is beyond the recovery capacity of state and local governments; (2) FEMA review and recommendation; and (3) the Presidential action of a declaration. There are various stages for disaster declaration, of which the final stage is for FEMA to approve the project and obligate funding. The funding is 75 percent federal, 12 percent state, and 13 percent applicant. On the completion of projects, KYEM reimburses the applicant for 90 percent of allowable costs of the federal and state portions, FEMA reimburses KYEM for the federal cost share, and FEMA performs final inspections and may deobligate funding or increase funding depending on eligibility of expenditures, and finally disburses the final funding to or requests reimbursement from applicants. The declaration is officially closed when all projects are closed.
Mr. Dossett explained the audits, risk analysis, and monitoring of the mandatory oversight of federal grant awards. He stated that any recipient of federal funds expending in excess of $750,000 in federal awards must undergo an audit, and all sub-recipient audits are provided to and reviewed by KYEM staff. Any major findings must be corrected or funding may be withheld. Annually, sub-recipients must complete a risk survey to be determined if they are a risk for receiving federal funds. All costs must be supported by documentation that meets federal requirements, and all disbursements must be reviewed and approved by the specific program, program branch, KYEM Pre-Audit, KYEM Division, and the Department of Military Affairs.
Mr. Dossett explained the disaster declaration constraints and alternatives. Public assistance projects must exceed $3,000 and large projects must exceed $121,000. The Individuals and Households Program has no set threshold and the maximum FEMA award is $33,000. The program provides temporary housing assistance, repairs, replacement of household items, death benefits, and unemployment. The Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program must have at least 25 homes or businesses with uninsured damages greater than 40 percent of the property value and low interest loans are available to qualified applicants. The United State Department of Agriculture provides loan assistance for damaged crops, fencing, buildings, and debris removal. The National Resources Conservation Service has stream debris removal and flooding remediation and is through independent funding.
In response to a question from Senator Westerfield, Mr. Dossett stated that even if the $6.12 million threshold is met, there is no guarantee of receiving FEMA relief. FEMA gives reimbursements to restore a structure back to the pre-disaster status.
In response to a question from Representative Hale, Mr. Dossett stated that he has worked with FEMA to find ways to help small counties with low income individuals who have been hit with disasters but have struggled to understand how to contact FEMA or to understand the process needed to get help. He agreed that the process needs to be simplified. He stated that during the past five disasters, FEMA has improved by having two types of representatives out in every community, to get word out through public affairs people, and by handing out announcements within the communities.
Chairman Coursey announced that the next meeting for Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection, is planned for August 3, 2016, at 2:30 PM, at the Boone National Guard Center. Staff will provide specific details as soon as the meeting is approved.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.