It’s not just cold air slamming against warm that creates disasters. Disasters come from a variety of threats: rising rivers and unprecedented snowfalls, cyberattacks and infectious diseases. There are also other kinds of risks, such as inadequate budgets and shifting political sands. Regardless of the cause, the consequences are predictable and can be tragic. Disasters hurt people and property. They tear lives apart. They can make political careers or bring them to a screeching halt. Disasters can change the course of history. While disasters can be difficult and present challenges to a neighborhood, community, state and a nation, their impact can be mitigated through strong and decisive action. Often, the only thing standing between the worst outcomes and manageable ones are citizens and public officials who refuse to be helpless pawns or victims, but instead prepare for the inevitable, conduct a thorough response and develop together a well-thought out recovery that acknowledges evolving threats without fear.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina violently slammed into the Gulf Coast, leaving more than a million people in the Gulf Coast region displaced, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler is looking back and issuing a somber reminder to state officials: Make sure that your contingency planning for disasters includes elections.

The Border Legislative Conference, a program of The Council of State Governments West, released a report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition,” at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness. The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.

Congress has by the end of this week to pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. After Feb. 27, the department will be forced to cut all nonessential personnel. The funding dispute between Republican and Democrat lawmakers largely revolves around the executive order on immigration President Obama issued last November that expanded the number of people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. To add more uncertainty to the issue, a federal court in Texas has temporarily blocked the executive order saying it would place major burdens on state governments and strain state budgets. President Obama has vowed to appeal the court’s decision; however, the administration will not proceed with the provisions outlined in the executive order until the appeals process is completed.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in December 2013 announced a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act of 2005. The act enacted a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” States and other jurisdictions have made significant progress in enhancing the security of their licenses in recent years, but hurdles and holdouts remain and key deadlines in 2015 and 2016 loom. This CSG eCademy provide an update from DHS on states’ progress, with discussion and questions posed by a representative of the REAL ID advocacy organization the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License.

Oregon voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to overturn a state law that grants driver’s cards to Oregonians who can’t prove legal residency. The legislature passed the bill in 2013, but opponents of the law gathered enough signatures to send the measure to the polls as a ballot initiative. The outcome—if enough people oppose the law—could stop it dead in its tracks. 

Disasters demand attention. They don’t care about government shutdowns, continuing resolutions or sequestration. Political ideology and party partisanship are immaterial to them. Disasters also don’t discriminate. They occur in red states, in blue states and every shade in between. Borders drawn on a map make no difference. So, whether it’s a tornado in Moore, Okla., a chemical spill in West Virginia or wildfires in Colorado, there are undeniable realities when it comes to disasters. 1) They will occur. 2) Some people will need help. 3) Communities will want to recover. Because disasters can be arbitrary and capricious, the only way to truly manage them is to learn from the last one, while mitigating and preparing to the best of one’s ability for the next event. At the end of the day, that determines success or failure, life or death. For disasters, all the rest are just details.

NEMA is very proud to release the first-ever report tracing the history of EMAC and its impact on national mutual aid policy and operations. A state-driven solution, EMAC stands as a tested and proven success story and an example of what determined individuals can accomplish when working together to make a difference for the nation.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Nicholas Burns, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former adviser to four U.S. presidents, thinks the world is in pretty bad shape right now. That’s a sobering thought considering he began his career in public service during the height of the Cold War....

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the establishment of the Recognition of EMS Personnel Licensure Compact (REPLICA) and encourages its member jurisdictions to consider the new interstate agreement as an innovative policy solution to the challenge of interstate EMS personnel emergency and life-saving operations.