HARRISBURG – The state Senate recently passed a bill requiring Senate confirmation for the position of director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20th) introduced the measure to offer greater legislative oversight of an essential public safety role. Baker, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said the responsibilities and the profile of the PEMA Director have increased in recent years, making the role critical to state security and public safety.
“The frequency and severity of disasters and emergencies – those caused by Mother Nature and those attributable to human errors and failures – have been on the rise,” Baker said. “The extent and depth of emergency planning, and the challenges of emergency response, have risen commensurately.”
The PEMA director is tasked with implementing the State Emergency Operations Plan, coordinating responses to disasters and terrorist attacks, ensuring nuclear power plant safety and hazardous materials preparedness, and maintaining the state emergency alert system.
Hundreds of nominees for various cabinet posts and state boards require Senate confirmation. Given the significance of the duties under the PEMA Director’s purview, Baker believes the position should also be held accountable through the legislative process.
Senate Bill 490 now heads to the House for its consideration.
Contact: Andrew M. Seder