Arkansas Delegation Announces Passage of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Legislation includes emergency management funding for 4 Arkansas priorities

Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02), and Mike Ross (AR-04) today announced that the Senate and House have approved the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010, which contains funding for four Arkansas emergency management priorities.

Pryor and Berry are members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, respectively.  Their presence on these committees allows them the opportunity to shape the legislation during the legislative process.

The legislation includes $900,000 for the Emergency Management and 911 Communications Center in North Little Rock, $452,000 for an Emergency Management System at Arkansas State University-Beebe, $366,564 for an Early Warning System in Drew County and $750,000 for generators to be distributed by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

The $42.776 billion homeland security annual bill provides essential funding for border and customs protection; chemical security; training and equipment for first responders; cyber security; disaster preparedness and response; as well as port, transit, and aviation security.

“As we have witnessed many times before in Arkansas, it is vital that all levels of government be prepared and equipped to properly respond during emergencies,” Lincoln said. “I’m pleased that this legislation provides for our state and local emergency management needs while also supporting critical initiatives that work to ensure our national security.”

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I worked hard to ensure this legislation meets our homeland security needs across federal, state, and local levels in the most effective and efficient manner possible.  Its focus on equipping our first responders, securing our borders,  preparing for and responding to natural disasters, and preventing terrorist acts will help keep our country and our communities safe and strong,” said Pryor, and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Especially after September 11th, funding our nation’s homeland security initiatives has been a priority for this Congress,” said Berry.  “This bill will help make sure that we all provide rural first responders with more resources to get the job done, so that our communities remain secure and our citizens feel safe.  Although we can’t predict the next disaster, we can make sure our first responders have the tools in hand to protect and serve our communities.”

“The needs of our communities continue to grow,” said Snyder.  “I am very pleased to support these projects which provide our first responders the technology and work environments to efficiently and effectively respond to emergencies.”

“Given the unpredictability of Arkansas’s weather, we should be as prepared as possible for any number of weather-relegated emergencies,” said Ross.  “These federal investments will help local and state leaders prepare for emergency situations, including weather disasters.   I am pleased to help announce these funds because we should continually work to make certain our emergency personnel and first responders have the necessary tools and resources they need to quickly answer the needs of their citizens.”

The following is a list of Arkansas’s homeland security priorities included in the legislation:

$900,000 for an Emergency Operations Center in North Little Rock
Funding will be used to establish a new Emergency Operations Center that is better equipped to handle interagency communications, emergency management, and 911 assistance.  The current facility lacks the ability to adequately connect with the Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN), Arkansas’s interoperable wireless communication system for emergency responders and public service entities.

$452,000 for an Emergency Management System at ASU – Beebe
These funds will be used to install a surveillance system and a voice over IP (VoIP) emergency notification system.

$366,564 for an Early Warning System in Drew County

These funds will be used to provide weather and other related disaster information as well as to purchase outdoor weather sirens that will alert residents of approaching severe weather.

$750,000 for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management

Funding will be used to purchase generators to distribute to areas affected by tornadoes, ice storms, and other natural disasters in order to provide essential services during future power outages and emergencies.