Homeland Security

Yesterday, Texas lawmakers pulled legislation targeting Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents who conduct invasive airport patdown searches after the federal government threatened to ground all flights out of the state.  

The bill (HB 1937), which unanimously passed the Texas House on May 13, would make it a crime, punishable by a $4000 fine and one year in jail, for TSA screeners to touch the genitals of a traveler without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

Canada and the United States are pursuing a perimeter security agreement that proponents say would allow goods and people to move more freely along the land border between the two countries and reduce costs for businesses.

According to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the need for a mechanism to enable health care professionals licensed in states outside a disaster area to quickly get authorized to practice in the state where the disaster occurred. While the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) provides for the interstate recognition of licenses held by professionals responding to disasters and emergencies, that Compact cannot be solely relied on to facilitate the "surge capacity" of professionals necessary to deliver health services during emergencies.

The homeland security challenges facing the nation today are more complex than they were on September 11, 2001.  The transition of newly elected and appointed officials at all levels of government represents a loss of institutional knowledge for the homeland security enterprise.  The recession has affected the abilities of state and local governments and the private sector to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond and recover from disasters and emergencies.  Most ominously, there is steadily increasing attempts to bring terror and manmade destruction to the homeland of the United States.

Does GIS—geographic information system—sound too much like techno babble? Well, thousands of Virginia emergency management officials use the technology all the time. In fact, it often is the difference in making a quick, emergency decision to save lives and property versus scrambling to get all the necessary information in a crisis. Virginia uses GIS mapping combined with real-time data in its intuitive Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response program, nicknamed VIPER.

According to a new report released today by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has dropped to 11.1 million in 2009 from a peak of 12 million in 2007, an 8 percent decline.   The researchers note that this is the "first significant reversal" in illegal immigrant growth in the last twenty years.

The study found that fewer illegal immigrants came to the United States every year between 2007 and 2009 than in years in the first half of the decade.   Specifically, approximately 300,...

On Sept. 11, 2001, my son Jonathan Lee Ielpi, 29, a New York City firefighter and the father of two boys, was killed in the collapse of the South Tower during the World Trade Center attack. My mission then—and we all have missions—was to find my son.

E-Newsletter Issue #53: August 5, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not only the worst environmental accident the U.S. has ever experienced, it’s also a harsh reminder of how—without any warning—one disaster can impact a state’s priorities, budget, elected officials and very future. Adding to the uncertainty for all states is the growing number of disasters across the country.

In the world of state emergency management and homeland security, 2009 was a year of new faces, new threats and new opportunities. It began with the Obama administration tapping several state officials for the top jobs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This was followed by the first flu pandemic in 40 years, with tens of millions of Americans contracting the H1N1 virus. Technology continued to extend its long tentacles with some 40 states using social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with citizens about disaster preparedness and safety. All of this occurred as the country experienced its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The challenge in 2010 will be to protect investments to date and still move forward with creative problem solving while state and federal budgets make their way back from the brink.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments supports the development of national standards for a public safety broadband network to ensure that technical requirements for access to, reliability of and performance of the network are consistent across the country.