Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security
State House, Boston

Dear Chair Moore, Chair Naughton, and Members of the Committee,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing in support of S. 1444, An Act establishing local emergency management agencies that is scheduled for hearing today. We appreciate the Committee’s consideration of the local government position regarding this bill.

The bill would amend the Civil Defense Act of 1950, which authorizes the creation of local organizations for civil defense to carry out emergency services in the event of an attack or a natural disaster, and would allow municipalities to designate existing municipal departments as a “Local Emergency Management Agency and Local Office of Emergency Preparedness.” The bill also clarifies the lines of authority in municipalities with council-manager forms of government, and authorizes the suspension of employment restrictions in G.L. Chapter 41 (municipal officers) and G.L. Chapter 150E (public employees). The bill further requires municipal appointing authorities to file declarations of emergencies with the Governor, Director of MEMA, the Secretary of State and the local clerk, and it authorizes the Director of MEMA to take control of any municipal department necessary during declarations of emergency.

In sum, the bill updates an older law to provide cities and towns with a more accessible emergency management preparedness structure in order to manage emergency situations and natural disasters that continue to escalate in severity. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Senior Legislative Analyst Lisa Adams at 617-426-7272 at any time.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO