Minnesota Emergency Management and Homeland Security Authorities Summarized.
CRS Report for Congress
Minnesota Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
March 23, 2004
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Sula P. Richardson
Analyst 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
Minnesota Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Authorities Summarized
The Minnesota governor exercises authority over emergency management in
the state and may assume direct control over certain emergencies. The executive
council provides state assistance and allocates state funding for emergencies. The
division of emergency management is located within the department of public safety
and coordinates state emergency preparedness activities and the response to natural
disasters. Farmers may apply for a disaster recovery loan from the state and its local
governments, and may seek grants for floodplain disaster reduction studies. A
disaster declaration can last up to 30 days if the cause results from enemy sabotage
or a public health emergency, and for a maximum of five days for other peacetime
emergencies. Continuity of government provisions allow the governor to move the
capital from St. Paul; and interim succession and relocation of local government
authorities is also provided. The statute provides for closing banks during a natural
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..............................7
For Further Research..........................................10
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Minnesota Statutes, with Citations..................9
Minnesota Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Authorities Summarized
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor exercises general direction and control of emergency
management. During a national security or energy supply emergency, or a nuclear
power plant incident, the governor may assume direct control over state emergency
management functions. The statute authorizes the governor to cooperate with the
federal government, other states, Canadian provinces, and private agencies, and to:
make or amend orders and rules; ensure the state emergency operations plan and
program are developed, maintained, and integrated with the federal plan and those
of other states; procure supplies, equipment, and materials; institute training and
public information programs; take steps for activation in advance of actual disaster;
study and survey industries, resources, and facilities; enter into mutual aid
arrangements with states, tribal authorities, and Canadian provinces; and coordinate
mutual aid plans between political subdivisions. In cooperating with federal agencies
and officials of other states, the governor is authorized to control preparedness drills
and warning systems, suspend utility services, control ingress and egress, hold public
meetings, order the evacuation and sheltering of persons, contribute no more than
formulate, with approval of the executive council, civilian traffic plans to allow
troops to move, conserve critical materials, alter work days, adjust annual and sick
leave and the payroll of state executive branch employees to minimize the effect of
a disaster or emergency, and authorize the school commissioner to close schools or
curtail activities. The governor or the director of emergency management must
oversee the annual review of state emergency operations plans of licensed nuclear
power plants (includes changes in traffic patterns, population densities, new
construction). Such plans must be made available to the public and media (Minn.
Executive Council: The council consists of the governor, lieutenant governor,
secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and attorney general (Minn. Stat. §9.011) and is
authorized to: take measures to prevent an impending disaster; grant relief to
communities; prevent the occurrence or spread of a disaster; grant relief to
individuals or families affected by a disaster; repair state property damaged by
disaster; and commandeer and use property vehicles, means of transportation,
communications or public service. The owner must be given a receipt and
reimbursed for use or damage. The council may use state facilities and offices and
command the services of the state military organization, state fire marshal or any
department and its employees. Employees on the council serve without additional
pay, but members of the state military serve with pay. When an emergency exists
and the attorney general certifies that funds are needed, the executive council
furnishes money. The council must send a report to the legislature of all expenses
and money paid by March 1 of the year of regular session. The council is authorized
to spend money as necessary within the limits of appropriations made to the council
(Minn. Stat. §9.061).
Department of Public Safety: The department includes the Division of
Emergency Management and the Office of Emergency Response. The state director
of emergency management, who, with the governor is responsible for supervision and
control of the division, is appointed by the commissioner of public safety (Minn. Stat.
Division of Emergency Management: The division coordinates state emergency
preparedness and response activities for all natural and other emergencies and
disasters, including discharges of oil and hazardous substances. Responsibilities
include: developing and maintaining the comprehensive state emergency operations
plan and program; establishing and maintaining a “single state answering point
system for reporting emergency incidents” to state agencies, and for requesting state
or federal assistance following an emergency or disaster; activating state and regional
emergency operations centers; providing assistance to political subdivisions;
coordinating political subdivisions’ emergency operations plans and programs;
developing and maintaining a comprehensive hazard mitigation plan for the state that
is integrated with federal mitigation plans; conducting emergency preparedness drills
and exercises; and ensuring the coordination of public and private agencies with
donations and volunteers (Minn. Stat. §12.09).
Emergency Commission: The commission, consisting of representatives from
the departments of public safety, health agriculture, the pollution control agency and
18 other agencies, is responsible for carrying out the requirements of the federal
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. The commission is
authorized to enter into agreements with departments, political subdivisions, and the
federal government (Minn. Stat. §299K.03).
Local organization for emergency management: Local organizations are
established by political subdivisions with the approval of the director of emergency
management. The director of each organization is responsible for the organization,
administration, and operation of the local agency, coordinates training, plans
emergency operations, acquires equipment, and spends county funds. With the
approval of the state director, two or more political subdivisions may enter into
agreements to establish a common emergency management organization (Minn. Stat.
Regional district offices: These offices provide administrative assistance and
operational support after a disaster (Minn. Stat. §12.24).
With regard to nuclear power plant emergency response planning, the director
of emergency management is to assess the need to mitigate a potential incident at a
nuclear power plant and carry out emergency operations planning (Minn. Stat.
During a state of emergency the governor, state director, or local emergency
management organization may require any person to perform emergency
management services or commandeer motor vehicles, tools, medical supplies,
facilities, or personal property. Compensation is to be paid for use of or damage to
the property (Minn. Stat. §12.34).
The governor may contract during an emergency to protect people and property.
All contracts must be in writing and filed with the commissioner of finance (Minn.
A political subdivision, during an emergency, is authorized to enter into
contracts and incur obligations to protect health and safety (Minn. Stat. §12.37).
The commissioner of natural resources must establish a plan to respond to
drought-related emergencies and prepare a framework for drought response (Minn.
The commissioner of transportation is authorized to enter into an agreement
with the state division of emergency management to build, operate, and maintain
joint facilities. The Division of Emergency Management must contribute a
proportionate share of expenses (Minn. Stat. §161.40).
A unit of local government with a pipeline within its jurisdiction must prepare
an emergency operations plan that is to be annually reviewed and updated to reflect
changes in operations (Minn. Stat. §299J.10). Local emergency plans (required
under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act) must be
prepared by political subdivisions (Minn. Stat. §299K.05).
The commissioner of natural resources is authorized to accept titles or
easements to land (40 acres maximum) for use as a fire lookout tower, warehouses,
other buildings, or firebreaks. The commissioner is authorized to purchase, lease,
and acquire easements (Minn. Stat. §88.09).
A local emergency may be declared by a mayor, the county board chair, or legal
successors for a maximum period of three days. The consent of the governing body
is required to continue the declaration. Any related order that has been given must
be given public notice and filed with the chief of the local record keeping agency of
the affected political subdivision. A local declaration invokes disaster plans and
assistance agreements. No interjurisdictional agency or official may declare a local
emergency without express prior authorization. Interjurisdictional agencies are
authorized to provide aid and services (Minn. Stat. §12.29).
If there is a major disaster or public health emergency from enemy sabotage or
other hostile action the governor may proclaim a national security emergency, call
the legislature to convene immediately, and exercise emergency powers for a
maximum period of 30 days. The governor also may declare a peacetime emergency
when an act of nature, technological malfunction, terrorist incident, public health
emergency, industrial accident, hazardous material incident or civil disturbance
endangers life and property, and local resources are inadequate. A declaration
extends for a maximum period of five days unless an executive council resolution
extends it for 30 days. If the legislature is not in session during a public health
emergency, the governor is authorized to call into it session when he declares an
emergency. A declaration of a peacetime emergency invokes the state emergency
operations plan (Minn. Stat. §12.31).
Before a public health emergency is declared, the governor or state director of
emergency management must consult with the commissioner of public safety, the
director of homeland security, the commissioner of health, and public health experts.
If a public health emergency occurs on tribal lands, the governor is to consult with
tribal authorities before a declaration is issued. If time does not permit such
notification, the governor may issue the declaration without consultation. Upon
issuance of a public health emergency declaration, the governor and commissioner
of health must report to the house and senate leadership and the chairs and ranking
minority members of judiciary and health committees (Minn. Stat. §12.311).
A national security or peacetime emergency resulting from a public health
emergency automatically terminates after 30 days unless renewed by the governor;
the governor may renew the emergency at the end of 30 days. A majority vote of
each legislative chamber can terminate a national security or peacetime emergency
due to a public health emergency at any time from the date of declaration. Such a
legislative termination overrides a governor’s renewal (Minn. Stat. §12.312).
Emergency orders and rules resulting from a national security or peacetime
emergency, when approved by the executive council and filed with the secretary of
state, have the full force and effect of law. Any rules or ordinances issued by an
agency or political subdivision that are inconsistent with the order or rule are
suspended while the emergency exists (Minn. Stat. §12.32).
Types of Assistance
The division of emergency management and FEMA may enter into an
agreement to maintain the state assistance program and administer the federal disaster
assistance program. FEMA is to provide $50,000 annually to implement the
program, and the state provides two planners and equipment. The state director can
apply for, accept, and administer federal financial assistance resulting from a disaster
declaration. The director must report expenditures to the chairs of specified
committees of the state House and Senate. The director may approve sub-grant
agreements with eligible applicants (Minn. Stat. §12.221).
The governor or a political subdivision’s governing body must use the services,
equipment, supplies, facilities of state agencies to the maximum extent practicable
(Minn. Stat. §12.23).
The state director of emergency management pays for training classes for state
employee and other individuals, including travel and housing, from funds
appropriated to the department of public safety (Minn. Stat. §12.24).
If the president declares a major disaster, the governor is authorized to apply to
the federal government for loans on behalf of political subdivisions and receive and
disburse the proceeds. The governor is to determine the amount needed and certify
the amount to the federal government, with a specified maximum limit of 25 percent
of the political subdivision’s operating budget for the fiscal year in which the disaster
occurred. The governor may recommend the cancellation of all or part of the
repayment if local revenues are insufficient to meet operating expenses (Minn. Stat.
With the governor’s approval, a state agency may waive fees charged for
services in areas included in a presidentially declared disaster during the “minimum
periods of time” necessary. The agency must report to the appropriate state
legislative committees the reasons for and impact of suspended fees(Minn. Stat.
Emergency response personnel, when activated, are state employees and have
the powers, duties, and immunities of state employees. The state must reimburse
political subdivisions for compensation, travel, and maintenance expenses of
employees activated by the state director as emergency response personnel.
Reimbursement is provided for payments made for death, disability, or injury of
personnel, or loss or damage of supplies and equipment. The state is to reimburse
political subdivisions for compensation, travel, and other costs for employees
participating in training exercises. When emergency management personnel from
another state render aid in Minnesota, reimbursements are to be made to the other
state for compensation, death or disability payments, or loss and damage to supplies
and equipment, but reciprocity is required (Minn. Stat. §12.35).
After a state or federal disaster declaration for a county has been issued, a farmer
may apply for a disaster recovery loan to clean up, repair, and replace farm structures,
septic and water systems, seed, feed, and livestock. The aid is restricted to farmers
with assets of less than $400,000 and who earn 50% of their average gross income
from farming during the most recent three year period (Minn. Stat. §41B-047).
The commissioner of natural resources may make grants of up to $50,000 to
local governments for floodplain damage reduction studies to implement flood
mitigation measures (Minn. Stat. §103F.161).
The commissioner of natural resources may purchase natural disaster relief
materials and equipment for political subdivisions. The commissioner may use
federal grants and state appropriations to make the purchases and repairs. Political
subdivisions are to be reimbursed for costs, and the amount is credited to the account
and appropriated annually (Minn. Stat. §88.065).
The commissioner of natural resources may provide grants for fire suppression
equipment and training used to control wildfires, and may require a local match for
the grant (Minn. Stat. §88.067).
The directors of local emergency management organizations, or the state
director of emergency management, are authorized to collaborate with public and
private agencies, other states, and Canadian provinces to develop mutual aid
agreements (Minn. Stat. §12.27).
At the request of another state, the governor is authorized to send equipment and
personnel to an emergency or disaster outside the state (Minn. Stat. §12.27).
The governor may direct a political subdivision’s police, firefighters, emergency
health workers to go to the assistance of another political subdivision and take and
use staff, equipment, and supplies as needed. Officers working in other areas have
the same powers, duties, immunities granted in their base communities while
performing services. The political subdivision receiving the assistance must provide
reimbursement for supplies and employee costs. The state reimburses political
subdivisions for equipment that is lost or damaged, as well as for additional expenses
(Minn. Stat. §12.33).
Political subdivisions are authorized to request aid from other local
governments. If a mutual aid agreement does not exist, the statute sets out
compensation and reimbursement proceedings (Minn. Stat. §12.331).
During an emergency, a person who holds a license or permit issued by another
state that shows evidence of meeting the Minnesota professional or mechanical skill
qualification may render aid involving those skills (Minn. Stat. §12.42).
The Interstate Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Minn.
Nuclear power plant owners must pay quarterly assessments for the costs of
nuclear power plant emergency response programs (Minn. Stat. §12.14).
A state or political subdivision can accept gifts, grants, or loans from the federal
government for emergency management, as well as from persons or corporations.
Volunteers who register with a political subdivision to provide assistance and work
under the direction of the subdivision during an emergency or disaster are considered
employees of that unit of local government (Minn. Stat. §12.22).
Each political subdivision is authorized to make appropriations for emergency
management expenses and has the power to levy property taxes for emergency
management. In order to purchase additional equipment (partially paid through
federal funding), a political subdivision may levy an additional tax with the
governor’s approval (Minn. Stat. §12.26).
Money received by the commissioner of natural resources as reimbursement for
damages or losses incurred because of a natural disaster is to be deposited in a special
revenue fund and appropriated to accomplish the goals of programs from which
funds were originally diverted to respond to the disaster (Minn. Stat. §84.0261).
The state pipeline safety account includes fees and penalties, plus gifts and
grants (Minn. Stat. §299J.18).
The housing finance agency may establish a disaster relief contingency fund to
provide loans and grants to rehabilitate or replace housing damaged by a natural
disaster in the area where a presidential disaster was declared. The fund may include
repayments of grants and loans made from appropriations for disaster assistance
(Minn. Stat. §426A.21(29).
If a natural disaster or public emergency requires extraordinary expenditures,
and tax receipts or other funding sources are insufficient to meet expenditures, the
governing body of city, county or town may authorize the sale of certificates of
indebtedness to mature within three years. Certificates and interest are paid from
taxes or other available revenue (Minn. Stat. §475.754).
See also “Entities with Key Responsibilities.”
The commissioner of public safety must maintain a database of all pipelines,
inspect records kept by pipeline operators, and seek and accept the federal
designation of pipeline inspectors as federal agents to enforce the federal Hazardous
Liquid Pipeline Safety Act. If federal authority is delegated, the commissioner must
inspect pipelines, collect fees, oversee the testing of pipelines, and file a report with
the federal department of transportation (Minn. Stat. §299J.04).
The state floodplain management law is codified (Minn. Stat. §103F.101 et
A unit of local government using emergency flood protection measures must
notify the commissioner of natural resources of plans to use such measures as a part
of a comprehensive flood emergency program. The commissioner must review the
plan (Minn. Stat. §103F.155).
Continuity of Government Operations
When an emergency results from a threat or actual enemy attack and it is
impossible to conduct state government in St. Paul, the governor, by proclamation
is to declare an emergency temporary location(s) for the seat of government in or out
of the state. The governor is to take action for the orderly transition to the emergency
location(s), which remains the seat of government until the legislature establishes a
new location(s) or until the emergency is terminated by the governor. The presiding
officer of a governing body can designate by ordinance a substitute place as a
emergency temporary location for local governments (within or without of territorial
limits). All acts carried out in the emergency locations are valid (Minn. Stat. §1.26).
Local Interim Successor Act: In case of a nuclear attack or a natural disaster,
the local governing bodies are to enact ordinances to provide for the continuity of
government and the emergency interim succession of key government officials
(Minn. Stat. §1.27).
In the event of a vacancy from any cause in the office of the governor, the
lieutenant governor shall be governor. Last elected presiding senate office becomes
the lieutenant governor in case of a vacancy. The legislature may provide by law for
the continuity of government in periods of emergency resulting from disasters caused
by enemy attack, including the succession to powers and duties of public office and
a change in the seat of government (Minn. Const. Art. 5 §5).
Every emergency management organization established by statute must execute
and enforce orders and rules made by the governor (Minn. Stat. §12.28).
Able-bodied persons who refuse to help during an emergency is guilty of a
misdemeanor (Minn. Stat. §12.34).
The governor may provide, in a public health emergency, for the safe disposition
of dead human bodies. In taking such action the governor may consult with coroners,
medical examiners and related businesses about the requirements to dispose of
bodies. Specific requirements are set out in the statute (Minn. Stat. §12.381).
Individuals have a right to refuse treatment, testing, examination, or vaccination.
A person refusing treatment may be placed in isolation or quarantine on orders of the
commissioner of health. When possible, a health care provider is to give notice of
the individual’s right to refuse treatment (Minn. Stat. §12.39).
Emergency management offices cannot employ subversives who advocate the
overthrow of the government by force or violence (Minn. Stat. §12.43).
A physician’s assistant responding to a medical care need created by disaster
may render care but must establish a temporary supervisory agreement with a
physician before providing care (Minn. Stat. §147A.23).
A state employee who is a Red Cross disaster volunteer can request 15 days of
leave per year with full pay and if approved by employee’s appointing authority. The
state is not liable for a worker’s compensation claim that results from accident or
injury while on a Red Cross assignment (Minn. Stat. §43A.185).
An employee who is a volunteer firefighter is authorized to respond to calls
during working hours if it will not endanger co-workers. An employer cannot deduct
the time from the worker’s wages. Worker’s compensation remains the
responsibility of the emergency services entity (Minn. Stat. §43A.321).
The commissioner of commerce can authorize financial institutions in an
emergency area to close offices. The office remains closed until the commissioner
proclaims the emergency has ended or if officers determine they can reopen it. Also,
the commissioner may establish a temporary location due to an emergency (Minn.
The officers of a financial institution have the authority to decide whether to
open or close offices during an emergency, and when an emergency has ended within
the first 48 hours. Offices cannot remain closed for more than 48 hours without prior
approval of the commissioner (Minn. Stat. §47.0153).
The commissioner of natural resources is authorized to establish compensation
for fighting wildfires (Minn. Stat. §88.12).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Minnesota Statutes, with Citations
ActivatedMinn. Stat. §12.03 (1a)
Biological agentMinn. Stat. §609.712 (b)
BioterrorismMinn. Stat. §12.03 (1c)
DisasterMinn. Stat. §12.03 (2)
Disaster areaMinn. Stat. §166A-4 (2)
Disaster emergencyMinn. Stat. §275.123
DivisionMinn. Stat. §12.03
EmergencyMinn. Stat. §§12.03 (3), 47.0152, 299J.02
Emergency management Minn. Stat. §12.03 (4)
Emergency releaseMinn. Stat. §299J.02
Emergency responderMinn. Stat. §299J.02
Emergency response personnelMinn. Stat. §12.03 (4b)
Emergency Response CommissionMinn. Stat. §299.03
Emergency response organizationMinn. Stat. §299K.01
Emergency response personnelMinn. Stat. §12.03
Hazard mitigationMinn. Stat. §12.03 (5b)
ImminentMinn. Stat. §12.03 (5c)
Interim emergency successorMinn. Stat. §1.27
Local organization for emergencyMinn. Stat. §12.03 (6)
MitigationMinn. Stat. §103F.111
Mitigation measuresMinn. Stat. §103F.111
Natural disaster reliefMinn. Stat. §88.065
Public health emergencyMinn. Stat. §12.03
Simulated weapons of massMinn. Stat. §609.712 (c)
ToxinMinn. Stat. §609.712 (d)
VectorMinn. Stat. §609.712 (e)
Weapons of mass destructionMinn. Stat. §609.712 (f)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Minnesota
may be searched at: [http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/statutes.asp].