The Military Department, under the direction of the Adjutant General, administers the state's comprehensive program of emergency management. The Adjutant General is responsible for developing a comprehensive, all-hazard emergency plan for the state, known as the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, that includes an analysis of natural, technological, or human-caused hazards and procedures to coordinate state and local resources in responding to such hazards.
The Emergency Management Division (EMD) within the Military Department must develop and administer a disaster resilience program. The program should include:
Before July 1, 2025, the EMD must provide a report to the Governor and the appropriate committees of the Legislature on the overall progress of disaster resilience efforts for the hazards and issues where there is not another lead agency for coordinating resilience activities. Other agencies with responsibilities for resilience activities are encouraged to include an update on their efforts and any associated policy recommendations as an appendix to the report.
"Resilience" is defined as the ability to prepare, mitigate, plan for, withstand, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events and changing conditions, and reorganize in an equitable manner that results in a new and better condition.
"Disaster resilience" is defined as resilience within the critical infrastructure sectors of emergency services, communications, critical government facilities, transportation, critical manufacturing, commercial facilities, chemical manufacturing and distribution, water and wastewater treatment, and dams, excluding power generation.
(In support) Coordination is key when dealing with a disaster. This bill is designed to allow the EMD to support a program to identify hazards and prepare to face them. All agencies should coordinate in a way that works for each one. Climate resiliency is a top priority. Coordination is important so there is support for the coordination aspects of this bill. Scientists and land managers have seen firsthand the impacts of the changing climate. There is concern about overlapping policies. Property insurance is financial resiliency and a key component of economic development. Property insurance markets are under tremendous pressure from the cost of damage caused by natural disasters. A few states have had special sessions to address the crisis. The overall costs of insurance claims from damaging events are a significant factor in the availability and affordability of property insurance. This bill will help Washington become more resilient. More resilience will help maintain a healthy property insurance market.
(Other) There is support for the policy goal of the bill to have the EMD conduct disaster resiliency activities, but there is concern that the bill duplicates climate resiliency activities of other agencies in other bills. Suggested amendments would clarify agencies' roles and responsibilities. Washington's hazard profile includes several natural and human-caused hazards. The state is dealing with these in increasing numbers and severity. Low frequency but high impact geologic events are also a risk. There is a need to continue to build resilience in the state. Many state agencies have resiliency programs and initiatives, but there are many sectors that are not covered. There is a lot more work that needs to be done. One mitigation dollar results in $6 to $8 in savings when disaster strikes. Creating a resiliency program within the EMD may help enable the state to recover more quickly from disasters when they occur.
(In support) Investing in resiliency will improve the quality of life for Washingtonians. Every dollar spent on disaster mitigation will save the state by lowering disaster recovery costs. These savings will extend to both the public and private sectors.