Arkansas Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
CRS Report for Congress
Arkansas Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
March 17, 2004
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Arkansas Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
The Arkansas Emergency Services Act of 1973 confers emergency powers upon
the governor and outlines extensive duties of the state Department of Emergency
Management (DEM) as well as political subdivisions. Several funding mechanisms
are established in state law, with initial capitalization levels specified and limits set
on the use of the funds. Local governments may commit to interjurisdictional
agreements for the provision of emergency services. An emergency volunteer reserve
cadre is authorized to be established within the DEM. The Arkansas Emergency
Interim Legislative Succession Act and Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial
Succession Act provide for lines of succession for all levels of government. The
governor may change the location of legislative sessions and call an emergency
session in the event of an attack.
This report is one of a series that profiles the emergency management and
homeland security statutory authorities of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
and three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each
profile identifies the more significant elements of state statutes, generally as codified.
Congressional readers may wish to conduct further searches for related provisions
using the Internet link presented in the last section of this report. The National
Conference of State Legislatures provided primary research assistance in the
development of these profiles under contract to the Congressional Research Service
(CRS). Summary information on all of the profiles is presented in CRS Report
RL32287. This report will be updated as developments warrant.
Entities with Key Responsibilities.................................1
Types of Assistance............................................3
Continuity of Government Operations..............................7
For Further Research..........................................11
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Arkansas Statutes, with Citations..................10
Arkansas Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: During any state of disaster emergency, the governor is commander-
in-chief of all available forces, and may suspend the provisions of any statute, order,
rule, or regulation if strict compliance would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay
necessary action. The governor may utilize all available resources and transfer the
direction, personnel, or functions of state departments and agencies. The governor
may also commandeer property, compel evacuation, control ingress and egress to and
from a disaster area, suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of
alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles, and make provisions for
the availability and use of temporary emergency housing (Ark. Code §12-75-114).
Department of Emergency Management: The Department of Emergency
Management (DEM) is established as a public safety agency of the state. The
director is appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. An
emergency reserve cadre of trained specialists may be established to assist regular
employees during declared disaster response and recovery operations (Ark. Code
§12-75-109). Staff of the DEM prepare the state disaster plan, which may include
provisions for mitigation, response, emergency relief, areas of vulnerability, zoning,
building, and land use controls, and coordination of federal, state, and local
emergency management activities. DEM must provide a catalog of federal, state, and
private assistance programs to state and local officials and establish criteria for
determining catastrophic losses and enhanced levels of assistance (Ark. Code §12-
75-110(a)). DEM determines requirements for and procures food, clothing, and other
necessities; and procures them, promulgates standards for local and interjurisdictional
disaster plans; provides for mobile support units; maintains a list of available
equipment and temporary housing; and prepares executive orders, proclamations, and
regulations for the governor (Ark. Code §12-75-111). DEM must maintain
information systems to make available both voice and data links with FEMA, other
federal agencies, and other states, state agencies, and local offices that are assigned
an emergency management role (Ark. Code §12-75-112(a)).
State and local governmental entities - liaison officers: The head of any state
department with an emergency management role appoints emergency services liaison
officers to act as liaison with the department of emergency management. These
officers are authorized to prepare agency annexes to state and local emergency
operations plans, maintain files of agency resources, advise, assist, and evaluate the
capabilities of counterpart local or federal government agencies, and designate
personnel available for mobile support units and training (Ark. Code §12-75-116).
Political subdivisions and interjurisdictional offices: The governor may
combine two or more established local offices of emergency services as an
interjurisdictional office; the combined office must meet the same standards as a
single-jurisdiction office to be eligible for state and federal emergency management
funding and assistance. The statute sets out criteria for establishment of an
interjurisdictional office (Ark. Code §12-75-117(a)). Local or interjurisdictional
offices may be established as public safety agencies of their respective political
subdivisions for the purposes of mitigation of, planning for, response to, and recovery
from disaster and major emergency occurrences and for operation of public safety
information networks. All counties and designated municipalities establish, fund,
and maintain a local office of emergency services or make an interjurisdictional
agreement to receive services. A non-designated municipality receives emergency
services support from the county or counties in which it is located (Ark. Code §12-
75-118(a-b)). The governor may require one or more contiguous political
subdivisions to establish an office of emergency services jointly if it is unusually
difficult to provide disaster or major emergency prevention, preparedness, response,
or recovery services individually (Ark. Code §12-75-118(d)). Political subdivisions
without an office of emergency services must have a liaison officer to facilitate
cooperation and protection. The chief executive of each political subdivision
exercises authority within his jurisdiction comparable to that which the governor
exercises over the state government during disasters and major emergencies. Local
and interjurisdictional offices must prepare emergency operations plans (Ark. Code
Emergency Response Commission: The Emergency Response Commission
promulgates rules and regulations regarding hazardous material to establish uniform
procedures for reporting and managing information as required by the federal
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (12-82-102 to 104).
State Office of Hazardous Materials Emergency Management: The office is
established to administer emergencies associated with releases of hazardous or toxic
material (12-84-104 to 107).
Emergency Communications Act of 1991: The statute provides for the
evaluation and funding of an emergency communication system to coordinate state,
local, federal, and private sector emergency response personnel, equipment, and
resources in the event of natural, technological, or national emergency-related
disaster of catastrophic size and devastating impact (Ark. Code §12-78-101 to 105).
The governor or designated representative is authorized to create mobile support
units as necessary to reinforce disaster organizations in stricken areas and appoint a
commander for each unit. Mobile support units are called to duty by the governor or
his director, and perform their functions in any part of the state or, under certain
conditions, in other states (Ark. Code §12-75-120 (a)).
Emergency Volunteer Reserve Act of 1995: The statute establishes, within the
Department of Emergency Management, an Emergency Volunteer Reserve Cadre of
persons trained and experienced in certain functions related to disaster response and
recovery operations (Ark. Code §12-83-101 to 105).
See also ?Entities with Key Responsibilities”—Department of Emergency
Management, ?Hazard Mitigation,” and ?Other.”
The governor may declare a disaster emergency if he finds a disaster has
occurred or is imminent. An executive order or proclamation is not needed when a
disaster results in an interruption of utility services and a delay in obtaining an
emergency declaration would delay the restoration of services. When time is critical,
because of rapidly occurring disaster emergency events, the governor may verbally
declare a disaster until a written executive order or proclamation can be completed.
The state of disaster emergency continues until the governor terminates it or the
emergency conditions no longer exist. The statute limits the length of a disaster
emergency to 60 days unless renewed by the Governor. The general assembly, by
concurrent resolution, may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time.
Declaration of a state of disaster emergency activates disaster response and recovery
aspects of state, local, and interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans and authorizes
the deployment and use of any applicable forces (Ark. Code §12-75-107 ).
When events have exceeded, or will exceed, a local government’s ability to
respond or recover without state assistance, the chief executive officer must declare
a ?local state of disaster or emergency” to signify intent to request resources of the
state or federal government. Where the magnitude of the disaster is of such severity
that the functions of local government have ceased or the leadership has become
incapacitated, the governor may declare the local state of disaster or emergency in
order to qualify for state or federal funds (Ark. Code §12-75-102(d)).
Local states of disaster or emergency may be declared only by the principal
executive officer of a political subdivision or the governor under §12-75-102(d).
They may not be continued or renewed for more than 60 days except by or with the
consent of the governing body. A declaration activates response recovery, aid and
assistance aspects of local or interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans. The
principal executive officer may suspend provisions of any local regulatory ordinances
or regulations for up to 30 days if strict compliance would prevent, hinder, or delay
necessary actions. No interjurisdictional agency or official may declare a local
disaster emergency unless expressly authorized by the interjurisdictional agency
agreement (Ark. Code §12-75-108).
Types of Assistance
State financial assistance, including individual and public assistance, is available
upon declaration of a disaster emergency (Ark. Code §§ 12-75-102(d); 12-75-107(f);
Individuals may deduct any loss sustained during the year that is not
compensated for by insurance or otherwise when computing net income. State
assistance is limited to losses of property not connected with a trade or business
arising from fires, storms, shipwrecks, other casualty, or theft. Any loss attributable
to a presidentially declared disaster, at the election of the taxpayer, may be deducted
for the taxable year immediately preceding the taxable year in which the disaster
occurred (Ark. Code §26-51-424(a-c)).
Response efforts under state, local, and interjurisdictional disaster emergency
plans are triggered by a declaration of a disaster emergency (Ark. Code §§ 12-75-
The governor and the executive officers or governing bodies of political
subdivisions are directed to utilize services, equipment, supplies, and facilities of
existing departments, offices, and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to
the maximum extent practicable (Ark. Code §12-75-121).
In emergency situations the governor, county sheriff, or municipal police chief
may authorize and request retired law enforcement officers, including game wardens,
to perform law enforcement functions (Ark. Code §12-75-130).
See also ?Funding.”
The Interstate Civil Defense and Disaster Compact is codified (Ark. Code §12-
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Ark. Code §12-
If a vulnerable area lies only partly within the state and includes territory in
another state or states the governor may establish an interstate relationship, mutual
aid, or an area organization for disaster (Ark. Code §12-75-117 (b)(1)). Jurisdictions
that have enacted the Interstate Civil Defense and Disaster Compact will consider any
resulting agreements supplemental to the Compact (Ark. Code §12-75-117 (b)(2)).
The governor may negotiate a special agreement for jurisdictions that have not
enacted the compact (Ark. Code §12-75-117(b)(3)(A)). Agreements without
sufficient authority must be submitted to the General Assembly for approval (Ark.
Code §12-75-117 (b)(3)(B)).
The Interstate Environmental Compact is codified (Ark. Code §8-8-101 to 103).
Political subdivisions assisted by the department of emergency management that
do not participate in interjurisdictional arrangements are encouraged to conclude
suitable arrangements for furnishing mutual aid. The governor may require an
interjurisdictional agreement or arrangement if the area involved and political
subdivisions have available equipment, supplies, and forces necessary to provide
mutual aid on a regional basis and the political subdivisions have not made
provisions for mutual aid. Public safety communications centers coordinate and
dispatch public safety and governmental agencies from adjacent political
subdivisions to consolidate resources and improve response. Resources for
immediate aid are authorized through a defacto mutual aid agreement during a
declared disaster. Reimbursement between dispatching and receiving jurisdictions
is authorized (Ark. Code §12-75-119).
The Budget Stabilization Trust Fund is used to make transfers to the State
Highway and Transportation Department Fund (up to $1,000,000 in any one fiscal
year) to provide the state’s proportionate share of each declared emergency or major
disaster as required by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq) (Ark. Code §19-5-501(b)(6)).
Within the Office of the Governor four funds separate from the governor’s
standard emergency fund are established—a disaster response fund (initially funded
at $1 million); a disaster recovery fund ($3 million initial funding); a catastrophic
loss fund (no initial funding identified); and a hazard mitigation fund ($3 million).
The statute specifies that $1 million is to be derived from the disaster recovery fund
for individual assistance, $2 million from the disaster recovery fund for public
assistance, $2.25 million from the hazard mitigation fund mitigation assistance, $1
million to defray the cost of immediate emergency response, and $3.25 million from
the the catastrophic loss fund for losses suffered by both individuals and public
The disaster response fund may be increased at the discretion of the governor.
Individual and public assistance funds may only be used in the event of a declared
disaster. The emergency response fund may be used only to defray immediate costs
associated with response activities by emergency forces of state and local
governments and registered private nonprofit forces. Expenditures from the hazard
mitigation fund must be made by executive order.
The director of emergency management must maintain a current hazard
vulnerability analysis of key critical public facilities eligible for assistance under the
hazard mitigation fund. Expenditures from the catastrophic loss fund may only be
made during a federally declared disaster, or a disaster with a separate gubernatorial
proclamation that catastrophic losses have been suffered by individuals, public
entities or both (Ark. Code §12-75-114(c)).
Emergency Response Fund Act: The Act is administered by the director of the
Department of Environmental Quality, who is authorized to purchase commodities
or services necessary to deal with a release or a threatened release of hazardous
substances and to reimburse costs incurred by the department. The statute outlines
regulations and limitations on expenditures, penalties, and appeals (Ark. Code Title
8, Chapter 7, Subchapter 4). The statute establishes a trust fund to be known as the
Emergency Response Fund to consist of all moneys received as gifts and donations
to the fund, interest earnings, and penalties for water, air and environmental
violations. The Emergency Response Fund is used to protect the public’s health and
safety and the environment and to provide emergency response capabilities from
releases of hazardous substances. Collections exceeding $150,000 are deposited in
the Hazardous Substance Remedial Action Trust Fund administered by the
Department of Environmental Quality under Ark. Code § 8-7-501 et seq (Ark. Code
§§ 8-7-410 and19-5-929).
The Disaster Assistance Fund consists of moneys received from the Budget
Stabilization Trust Fund, up to $9.5 million per fiscal year, in amounts required for
each declared emergency or major disaster. The chief fiscal officer of the state may
authorize temporary loans from the Budget Stabilization Trust Fund to the Disaster
Assistance Fund to make immediate payments to individuals, families, and public
assistance grants for those eligible for federal assistance. Temporary loans must be
repaid upon receipt of any federal funds for each declared emergency (Ark. Code
Political subdivisions may make appropriations for the payment of expenses
associated with the emergency services or natural disaster relief expenses of its local
organization. The statute authorizes the acceptance of grants by the federal
government or others for services, equipment, supplies, materials or funds by way of
gift, grant or loan, for purposes of emergency management (Ark. Code §12-75-123).
The director of the Department of Finance and Administration may accept gifts
to the state to fund the Arkansas Disaster Relief Program. Such gifts are to be
deposited in the Disaster Relief Program Trust Fund. The statute provides for
disaster relief income tax checkoffs to be listed on state income tax forms. The
Department of Finance and Administration certifies quarterly the amount contributed
to the program and the State Treasurer deducts from the Income Tax Withholding
Fund the amount to be credited. (Ark. Code §26-35-1101 to 1104)
The statute makes available money in the State Aid Road Fund to “disaster
counties” to restore and repair county bridges or roads which are destroyed, or which
have suffered extensive damage as a result of natural disasters. Together with county
funds, necessary matching moneys are required to enable disaster counties to obtain
federal disaster relief funds. A disaster county is qualified to receive state aid road
funds and is eligible for ninety percent (90%) state aid. Not less than ten percent
(10%) must be provided by county matching funds. Funds may also be used to match
federal disaster relief funds (Ark. Code §27-72-314).
The director of Department of Environmental Quality must respond to the
release or threatened release of hazardous substances, and may enter any public or
private property, unless the director is assured the person responsible will mitigate
the hazard in timely fashion (Ark. Code § 8-7-408).
State agencies, including those charged with flood plain management, stream
encroachment and flow regulation, weather modification, fire prevention and control,
air quality, public works, land use and land use planning, and construction standards
must make studies of means to reduce or avoid damage caused by possible disasters.
The governor then makes recommendations to the General Assembly, local
governments, and other appropriate public and private entities to facilitate measures
for prevention or reduction of the harmful consequences of disasters. The governor
may request legislative action appropriate to mitigate the impact of disaster when
necessary, and may suspend or modify building standards and land use controls
pending action by the general assembly. The governor’s action is subject to judicial
review (Ark. Code §12-75-115).
Arkansas Earthquake Preparedness Act of 1989: The statute charges the
Earthquake Preparedness Program, administered by the Arkansas Department of
Emergency Management, with the responsibility for carrying out the earthquake
preparedness program and requiring that all earthquake mitigation, preparedness,
response, and recovery-related functions be coordinated with comparable functions
of the federal government and other states. The statute created the state earthquake
program to assess seismic risk and to train and educate state and local officials and
citizens (Ark. Code §12-77-101 to 104).
All public structures must be designed and constructed to resist destructive
forces when an earthquake occurs in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (Ark. Code §12-
Continuity of Government Operations
Emergency Interim Legislative Succession Act: The Act provides for emergency
interim succession to the legislature. Members must designate emergency interim
successors and specify the order of succession. The statute provides for a contingent
designation method for emergency interim successors. Emergency interim
successors must meet constitutional and statutory requirements, take the oath of
office, and keep generally informed as to the duties, procedures, practices and current
business of the General Assembly (Ark. Code §10-6-101 to 109).
In the event of an attack the governor must call the General Assembly into
session within 90 days. The General Assembly automatically convenes if the
governor fails to issue a call. Limitations on session length and the subjects that may
be acted upon are suspended (Ark. Code §10-6-110). In the event of an attack, or
when an attack may be imminent, the governor may change the place of session to
any place within or without the state, whichever he deems safer and convenient (Ark.
Code §10-6-111). Quorum requirements are suspended and proportional voting
requirements are amended (Ark. Code §10-6-113). The authority of emergency
interim successors expires two years following the inception of an attack. The
governor, by proclamation, or the General Assembly, by concurrent resolution, may
extend or restore authority or the operation of any provisions when necessary, for up
to one year (Ark. Code §10-6-115).
When, due to an enemy attack or an anticipated attack, it becomes imprudent
or impossible to conduct state government at its regular location, the governor may
declare an emergency temporary location of government within or without the state.
This location remains the seat of government until the General Assembly, by law,
establishes a new location, or until the governor declares the emergency has ended
(Ark. Code §25-1-101).
When, due to an enemy attack or an anticipated attack, it becomes imprudent
or impossible to conduct local government at its regular location, the governing body
of each local jurisdiction may be called to establish an emergency temporary location
of government within or without the state (Ark. Code §14-14-308).
Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial Succession Act: The Act provides for
additional successors to the governor if the successors provided for constitutionally
are unable to assume the position. The statute authorizes state officers to designate
emergency interim successors and specifies their order of succession. The governing
bodies of cities, towns, villages, townships, and counties are authorized to provide
for emergency interim successors to offices. Officers of political subdivisions and
school, fire, power, and drainage districts designate deputies or emergency interim
successors or any combination and specify their order of succession. The governor
must designate “special emergency justices” for each member of the supreme court,
and the chief justice of the supreme court must designate the same for all other courts
of record and must specify the order of their succession. The judge of the circuit court
designates at least three special emergency judges for courts not of record within that
circuit, and specifies their order of succession. Emergency judges are required to
take the oath of office. Officials authorized to act as the governor, emergency interim
successors, and special emergency judges are empowered to discharge the duties of
an office only after an attack upon the United States. The General Assembly, by
concurrent resolution, may terminate the authority of emergency interim successors
and special emergency judges at any time (Ark. Code §21-1-301 to 311).
The line of succession for the governor is the president of the senate, then the
speaker of the house (Ark. Constitution Article 6, Sections 12 and 13).
Arkansas Hazardous and Toxic Materials Emergency Notification Act: The Act
creates within the Department of Emergency Management a system to notify local,
state, and federal emergency response and recovery forces, and those of other
governmental and private sector entities, with a mandated responsibility for
emergency services after the release of hazardous and toxic substances. Reporting
requirements are specified (Ark. Code §12-79-101 to 106).
Each person must conduct himself, and manage property, to assist the state and
not detract from efforts to manage disaster emergencies (Ark. Code §12-75-124(a)).
Compensation must be provided for services, or for the taking or use of
property, to the extent a claimant’s customary obligation is exceeded or a claimant
did not volunteer his services or property without compensation. An exception is
provided for timber affected by flooding or to provide a fire break. Compensation
has to be provided for property only if the property was commandeered or otherwise
used in coping with a disaster emergency and its use or destruction was ordered.
Owners must file a claim with the State Claims Commission (Ark. Code §12-75-
Immunity is granted from civil liability to persons who voluntarily, with or
without compensation, permit their property to be used as a public shelter during an
actual, impending, mock, or practice attack. The same immunity is extended to
persons who have voluntarily, and with or without compensation, granted the use of
automotive vehicles, boats or similar equipment, or aircraft (Ark. Code §12-75-125).
Subversive activities against the government by emergency services workers are
prohibited, and loyalty oaths and uniforms are required (Ark. Code §12-75-127).
Emergency service workers and volunteers are entitled to civil immunity except
for willful misconduct, gross negligence, or bad faith (Ark. Code § 12-75-128).
Qualified emergency services workers and volunteer workers are deemed local
government or state employees and are eligible for workers’ compensation and death
benefits in like manner as regular local government or state employees. Weekly
compensation benefits for emergency services volunteer workers are to be calculated
based upon the wages received from their regular or usual employments, the same as
a regular local or state employee, with respect to injury, disability, or death (Ark.
The Department of Emergency Management is authorized to provide a 5.5%
salary increase to certain employees exposed to hazardous or disastrous conditions
for each full pay period of 80 hours worked in a job which requires the provision of
on-site emergency disaster relief services in cases of wartime, man-made, or natural
disasters. Pay rates are specified (Ark. Code §12-75-131).
Under the Disaster Service Volunteer Leave Act, employees of state agencies
or state-supported colleges trained and certified as disaster service volunteers by the
American Red Cross may be granted leave from work with pay (with employer's
consent) for not more than 15 working days in any calendar year to participate in
specialized disaster relief. Loss of seniority, pay, annual leave, sick leave,
compensatory time, offset time, or overtime wages is prohibited (Ark. Code §12-85-
The number of state employees and employees of state-supported colleges
certified as disaster service volunteers is limited to 100 participants at any one time.
Eligibility list must be maintained, reports and guidelines are specified (Ark. Code
The state Office of Emergency Services was renamed the Arkansas Department
of Emergency Management in 1999 (Ark. Code §29-20-108).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Arkansas Statutes, with Citations
Accredited local emergency Ark. Code §12-75-103(14)
Attack Ark. Code §§10-6-103, 21-1-303(4)
Certified disaster serviceArk. Code §12-85-101 (1)
DisasterArk. Code §§12-85-101(2), 12-75-103(2)
Emergency interim successorArk. Code § 21-1-303(2)
Emergency managementArk. Code §§12-75-103(1), 12-84-103(1)
Emergency managementArk. Code §12-75-103(21)
Emergency managementArk. Code §12-75-103(20)
Emergency Volunteer ReserveArk. Code §12-83-103(2)
Established local office ofArk. Code §12-75-103(18)
Hazard mitigation assistanceArk. Code §12-75-103(17)
Hazardous materialsArk. Code §8-7-101(a)(2)
Hazardous and toxic materialsArk. Code §§12-79-103(3), 12-84-103(2)
HAZMATArk. Code §12-79-103(4)
Individual assistanceArk. Code §12-75-103(15)
Interjurisdictional agreementArk. Code §12-75-103(19)
Local emergency planningArk. Code §12-84-103(3)
Local organization for emergencyArk. Code §12-75-103(4)
Major emergencyArk. Code §12-75-103(3)
Mobile support unitArk. Code §12-75-103(5)
Operational controlArk. Code §12-75-103(7)
Public assistanceArk. Code §12-75-103(16)
Public safety agencyArk. Code §12-75-103(11)
Public safety officerArk. Code §12-75-103(12)
Qualified emergency servicesArk. Code §12-75-103(13)
Response assistanceArk. Code §12-75-103(22)
Specialized disaster reliefArk. Code §12-85-101(3)
State department/agency liaisonArk. Code §12-75-103(6)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for
Arkansas may be searched at: [http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/NXT/gateway.dll?f=