Montana Emergency Management and Homeland Security Authorities Summarized.
CRS Report for Congress
Montana Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
March 23, 2004
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae M. Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Montana Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
Montana’s Disaster and Emergency Services statutes include authorities related
to intergovernmental cooperation, planning, management, services and the Response
to Hazardous Materials Incidents Act. The governor oversees all emergency and
disaster operations and issues disaster or emergency declarations. Two mutual aid
compacts, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and the Interstate
Emergency Services Act, allow local governmental entities to enter into mutual aid
agreements with like entities from other states. Montana statutes also contain an
intergovernmental stipulation that authorizes the governor to enter into mutual aid
arrangements with Canadian provinces. Succession of power statutes delineate
individuals responsible for continuity of government, as well as succession
procedures for local governments and the relocation of the seat of government.
This report is one of a series that profiles 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,
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............................................4
Continuity of Government Operations..............................5
For Further Research...........................................8
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Montana Statutes, with Citations...................7
Montana Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor is authorized to suspend provisions of regulatory
statutes if strict compliance would prevent action to cope with an emergency or
disaster; direct evacuation of populations from emergency or disaster areas; control
ingress and egress to and from an incident or emergency or disaster area; and issue
executive orders, proclamations or regulations declaring or terminating a state of
emergency or disaster (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-104). During a state of emergency
or disaster, the governor is commander-in-chief of the militia and all other forces that
are available for emergency or disaster duty (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-305). The
governor is authorized to expend funds and incur liabilities and expenses (Mont.
Code Ann. §10-3-310). Also, the governor exercises general direction and control
of emergency resources management and all entities established under the emergency
resource management plan; makes, amends, and rescinds orders and cooperates with
federal government, other states, and private agencies for the management of
resources (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-503).
Department of military affairs: The department, through the Division of
Disaster and Emergency Services, is responsible to the governor for carrying out the
planning and program for disaster and emergency services (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-
Division of Disaster and Emergency Services: The division is authorized to:
prepare and maintain a comprehensive plan and program for disaster and emergency
services, which must be coordinated with plans developed by the federal government,
other states, political subdivisions and Canada; coordinate preparation of plans and
programs with political subdivisions; coordinate disaster and emergency prevention
and preparedness activities of all state departments; provide advice and assistance to
political subdivisions about their disaster and emergency services response; make
recommendations on forming interjurisdictional disaster and emergency services
areas if individual political subdivisions cannot establish a local program due to
funding and staffing limitations; survey industries, resources, facilities; review local
and interjurisdictional plans and programs; develop mutual aid plans between federal
government, other states, Canada and political subdivisions; make arrangements to
use private facilities, services and property (with compensation); institute training
and public information programs; direct disaster response, recovery and preparation
activities; prepare executive orders for the governor; and maintain liaison with other
emergency management organizations (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-105).
Principal executive officer: The principal executive officers of local
governments are authorized to direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the
population from an emergency or disaster area within a political subdivision to
preserve life or provide disaster mitigation, response and recovery assistance. The
officer is authorized to control ingress and egress to and from the area (Mont. Code
Local and interjurisdictional emergency and disaster agencies and services:
Each political subdivision designates an agency responsible for emergency and
disaster prevention and preparedness and the coordination of response and recovery
activities. Subdivisions receive assistance from the division for prevention,
preparedness, response and recovery efforts. They must adhere to the state disaster
and emergency plan and program; and must report to the division on providing
emergency and disaster services (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-201).
State Emergency Response Commission: The commission advises, consults,
cooperates and enters into agreements with state agencies and the federal government
on emergency response; collects and disseminates information on emergency
response; accepts and administers grants, gifts, or other emergency response funds
to the state; and prepares, implements and updates a plan that coordinates state and
local emergency authorities (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-1204).
Local Emergency Response Authorities: The governing body of each
incorporated city and county must designate a local authority, develop an incident
management system, and identify an incident commander. If an incident occurs in
an area without a local authority, the presiding officer of board of county
commissioners must be the authority (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-1209).
The state disaster and emergency plan and program may provide for prevention
and minimization of injury and damage from disaster; prompt and effective disaster
emergency relief; identification of areas vulnerable to disasters; recommendations of
preventive and preparedness measures to eliminate or reduce disasters and their
impact; a chain of command; and coordination of federal, state, local disaster
activities. The division is required to seek advice and assistance from local
government, business, labor, industry, agriculture, civil groups in developing the plan
and program (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-301).
Local and interjurisdictional disaster and emergency plans prepared by political
subdivisions are eligible to receive state funds. Plans must identify emergency
responsibilities of agencies and officials, chain of command, evacuation authority,
and other factors (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-401).
The division coordinates emergency communications and assists political
subdivisions in developing telecommunications systems complementary to the
statewide network (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-106).
The Department of Military Affairs cooperates in formulating plans for the rapid
and safe movement of national defense units on highways, coordinate with
departments of transportation and justice, and seek the cooperation of political
subdivisions (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-107).
The state emergency resource management plan must include emergency
organization and emergency administrative policies and procedures to conserve,
allocate, distribute and use essential resources available to the state following an
emergency (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-504).
The governor’s declaration of the existence of a state of emergency by executive
order or proclamation activates the emergency response and disaster preparation
component of the state disaster and emergency plan and program and authorizes the
use of forces for the distribution of supplies, equipment and materials, for a
maximum period of 20 days unless continuing conditions exist or a presidential
declaration or legislative joint resolution affirms that continuing conditions exist
(Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-302).
The governor declares a state of disaster by executive order or proclamation to
activate the disaster response and recovery components of the disaster and emergency
plan and authorize resource distribution for a maximum period of 30 days unless a
presidential declaration or legislative joint resolution affirms that continuing
conditions exist. The governor must terminate a declaration when the emergency or
disaster has passed, or conditions no longer exist, or the legislature terminates the
declaration by joint resolution (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-303).
All executive orders or proclamations declaring and terminating a state of
emergency or disaster must indicate the nature of the emergency or disaster, the area
threatened, and conditions that resulted in the declaration or termination of the
emergency (Mont. Code Ann. §1-3-104(3)).
The statute requires prompt dissemination of an executive order or proclamation
to bring the public’s attention to the matter and prompt filing of the order or
proclamation (Mont. Code Ann. § 10-3-304).
At the request of a local governing body the governor may issue an executive
order and activate disaster and emergency plan pertaining to incident response. The
governor is authorized to spend $10,000 maximum per incident, not to exceed
$100,000 per biennium (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-310).
The governor is to declare by proclamation the existence of a post-attack
recovery and rehabilitation emergency. If the legislature is not in session the
governor must convene a special session within 45 days. The governor may issue,
amend, or enforce orders to control rationing, price fixing, distribution of food,
clothing, commodities, prevention of waste, communications, power production,
transportation, labor supply, education, welfare, childcare, and other civil needs. The
governor’s proclamation and orders must be filed with the secretary of state and
county clerk. The governor’s power is terminated by a joint resolution of the
legislature or a presidential or congressional declaration terminating the emergency.
The statute provides for a maximum period of six months for each declaration, with
renewal possible only by joint resolution of the legislature (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-
505). The governor’s declaration is subject to judicial inquiry by the state supreme
court (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-506).
The principal executive officer of a subdivision may issue an emergency
proclamation or disaster declaration, both of which terminate when the emergency
no longer exists (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-402, 403). The proclamation or declaration
must indicate the nature of an emergency or disaster, the areas threatened, conditions
resulting in proclamation or termination, and must be disseminated to the general
public and filed with division and local recording office (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-
Types of Assistance
When an emergency or disaster has been declared the governor may approve
incurring liabilities and expenses from the general fund to meet contingencies and
pay for damage to state or political subdivision property when failure to make repairs
would affect public health and safety. In order to approve expenditures, political
subdivisions must have exhausted all emergency levies, and the emergency must be
found to be beyond their financial capability, or federal funds must require a match
from the state or political subdivisions for disaster assistance. No reimbursement is
made by the state if a political subdivision failed to meet national flood insurance
program requirements (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-311).
When an emergency or disaster is declared, the governor can expend $12
million maximum per biennium from the general fund and $500,000 maximum per
biennium as a state match for a presidentially declared disaster (Mont. Code Ann.
The governor may apply for community disaster loans for political subdivisions
that suffer substantial loss of tax and other revenues resulting from an emergency or
disaster and that demonstrate need for financial assistance for government functions.
The loan maximum is 25% of a subdivision’s annual operating budget. The governor
is authorized to recommend canceling repayment. Proceeds from the loans are
appropriated to the governor for disbursement of approved loans to applicant political
subdivisions (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-314).
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Mont. Code Ann.
The Interstate Emergency Services Mutual Aid Act permits one or more fire
protection services, emergency medical care providers, or local government
subdivisions to enter into mutual aid agreements with like entities from other states
(Mont. Code Ann. § 10-3-1101).
The division promotes mutual aid agreements among political subdivisions, fire
departments, and public and private agencies. Local officials may assist the governor
in negotiating with adjoining states and political subdivisions (Mont. Code Ann. §10-
The Interstate Mutual Aid Compact is codified (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-207).
The governor is authorized to enter into a interstate mutual aid compact with any
state where joint action meets common intergovernmental problems of emergency
and disaster planning, prevention, response and recovery. The governor may enter
into intergovernmental arrangements with neighboring provinces of Canada to
exchange disaster and emergency services (Mont. Code Ann. § 10-3-204).
Whenever the federal government offers to the state or to any political
subdivision services, equipment, supplies materials or funds in the form of gifts,
grants, or loans for purposes of emergency or disaster services, the governor, or the
executive officer of political subdivision, may accept the offer (Mont. Code Ann.
Local governments must estimate emergency expenditures and levy emergency
millage for purposes of taxation to cover such expenses, with limitations specified.
Expenditures require the approval of the local levying body, with excess funds
remaining in the emergency fund (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-405).
No specific provisions, see “Preparedness.”
Continuity of Government Operations
The seat of state government is Helena, except during emergencies resulting
from disaster or enemy attack. The legislature may enact laws to insure the
continuity of government during a period of emergency without regard for other
provisions of the constitution, only during the period of emergency that affects a
particular office or government operation (Mont. Constitution Art. III § 2).
Following an enemy attack, if the governor, lieutenant governor, president pro
tempore, and speaker of house are killed or are unable to serve, the senior member
of the legislature shall act as governor and call the legislature into emergency session
at a safe location within the state. Such a legislature meeting in joint session is to
elect a governor. The statute establishes a procedure for seniority to determine who
will serve as acting governor (Mont. Code Ann. §2-16-513).
The Continuity of Government Act sets out procedures for filling vacancies and
ensuring the continuity of government after enemy attack (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-
601 et seq.). County commissioner board vacancies that occur during or following
an enemy attack may be filled with appointments by other district judges if the judge
or judges of a judicial district with vacancies are not able to make the appointment
(Mont. Code. Ann. § 10-3-603).
If members of a city or town council or commission are not available following
an enemy attack, the board of county commissioners in which the city or town is
located is authorized to appoint successors to act in place of the unavailable members
(Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-604).
If the executive head of a city or town is unavailable following enemy attack,
the members of a city or town council who are available shall choose the successor
by majority vote (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-605).
If, after an enemy attack, the legislature or any council, board or commission is
unable to assemble a quorum, then available members shall constitute the body, and
quorum requirements shall be suspended (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-606).
If Helena cannot serve as seat of government, the statute authorizes a move to
an alternate location within the state by proclamation of the governor and specifies
factors to be considered. The alternate location serves as the seat of government until
it is moved again by governor’s proclamation or legislative action (Mont. Code Ann.
The seat of local government may be moved following an enemy attack if, in the
opinion of the political subdivision’s governing body, it is unsuitable for use (Mont.
Code. Ann. §10-3-608).
Statutory provisions regarding continuity of government become inoperative
after the first legislature convenes after the emergency which caused the provisions
to become operative (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-609).
In the event of emergency, a governing body may waive the second reading of
ordinances. An ordinance passed in response to an emergency must include the facts
of the emergency and requires a two-thirds vote of the whole governing body for
passage. An emergency ordinance remains effective upon passage and approval and
remains effective for up to 90 days (Mont. Code Ann. §7-5-104).
The statute establishes immunity from liability for civil defense actions taken
under specified conditions (Mont. Code Ann. §§10-3-111, 10-3-1210, 10-3-1217).
Political involvement of emergency management employees is prohibited, and
a loyalty oath is required of the same (Mont. Code Ann. §10-3-112).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Montana Statutes, with Citations
Civil defenseMont. Code Ann. §10-3-103 (1)
DisasterMont. Code Ann. §10-3-103 (3)
Disaster and emergency servicesMont. Code Ann. §10-3-103 (4)
Duration of responseMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (3)
EmergencyMont. Code Ann. §10-3-103 (6)
Enemy attackMont. Code Ann. §10-3-502 (2)
Emergency resources managementMont. Code Ann. §10-3-502 (1)
Hazardous substanceMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203(6)
Hazardous materialMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (4)
Hazardous material incident responseMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (5)
IncidentMont. Code Ann. §§10-3-1203 (7),
Incident commanderMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (8)
Local emergency operations planMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (9)
Local emergency response authorityMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203 (10)
Mutual aid agreementMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1103 (4)
Orphaned hazardous materialMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203(11)
Party emergency serviceMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1103 (5)
Radioactive materialMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203(13)
State hazardous materials incidentMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203(14)
Temporary housingMont. Code Ann. §10-3-103(10)
Threat of releaseMont. Code Ann. §10-3-1203(15)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Montana may
be searched at: [http://leg.state.mt.us/css/mtcode_const/default.asp].