The National Special Districts Coalition is urging Senate leaders to move bipartisan legislation to reform federal hazard mitigation programs to better facilitate completion of much-needed mitigation projects.
The Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects (HELP) Act of 2021 would reform the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to allow Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation program-qualified projects to begin without risk of losing potential federal assistance. Eligible projects are too often caught in the regulatory process, leaving infrastructure critical to the continuity of public services vulnerable to the forces of nature the mitigation program would otherwise assist.
NSDC sent Tuesday a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., calling on the Senate to consider and approve the legislation.
“NSDC represents special districts across the nation that provide critical infrastructure, emergency response, and essential services to thousands of communities,” the Coalition’s letter reads. “Special districts, along with their local government partners, are on the front lines of protecting their communities during disasters and are responsible for building resiliency for those communities against future disasters. All too often essential projects are delayed or disqualified from [FEMA] hazard mitigation assistance funds given the time it takes for FEMA to make funding decisions. The inability to start mitigation work because a grant application is pending leaves a community’s infrastructure vulnerable as natural disasters have only increased in severity and frequency.”
H.R. 1917 (Fletcher), the U.S. House version of the HELP Act, passed out of the Lower Chamber, by an resounding 409-16 vote. S. 1877 (Tillis) awaits further action in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Contact Cole Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Coordinator, for more information.