South Carolina Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
CRS Report for Congress
South Carolina Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
June 18, 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
South Carolina Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
South Carolina’s primary emergency management statute, Title 25 of the South
Carolina Code, sets out the roles of the governor and the state Emergency
Management Agency. The statute also creates a public health emergency plan
committee and provides for the negotiation of mutual aid agreements. State
emergency management activities are funded by federal allocations, state matching
grants, and a state disaster trust fund. The Emergency Interim Legislative Succession
Act provides for the succession of powers in emergencies. Other provisions allow
the state and local seats of government to be relocated in an emergency. The
Homeland Security Act of 2002 modified many portions of state statutes concerning
emergency management, emergency health powers, and freedom of information.
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............................................2
Continuity of Government Operations..............................4
For Further Research...........................................7
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security Terms
Defined in South Carolina Statutes, with Citations....................7
South Carolina Emergency Management
and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor is authorized to issue emergency proclamations and
regulations (which remain in force through the duration of an emergency) and to amend
or rescind them. The governor may also: suspend provisions of existing regulations if
compliance would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action; use all available state
resources; transfer authority for the direction, personnel, or functions of state departments
or agencies; compel performance by elected and appointed state and local officials and
employees; compel the evacuation of population; and control ingress and egress to an
emergency area (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-440 (a)(1),(3-7)).
Emergency Management Division: The Emergency Management Division (EMD)
is established within the Office of the Adjutant General. The Adjutant General appoints
the director of EMD, who is responsible for: coordinating all state, county, and municipal
efforts in developing state emergency plans; conducting a statewide preparedness
program; establishing and maintaining the state emergency operations center; and
establishing a system for reporting, analyzing, displaying, and disseminating emergency
information (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-420).
State Forester and Forestry Commission: The statute outlines the duties of state
officials with respect to forest disasters and requires the development of a forest disaster
plan (S.C. Code Ann.§48-23-86).
County and municipal governments: Units of local government must develop and
implement a shelter and relocation plan to help citizens respond to a nuclear emergency
and to provide for the housing and care of persons displaced or rendered homeless due to
a natural or man-made emergency (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-450(2)).
The office of the state Chief Information Officer develops a critical infrastructure
protection plan to provide for confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical data and
information systems, and to allow for alternative and immediate on-line access to such
systems in the event a major disaster occurs, whether natural or otherwise (S.C. Code
Special purpose districts are authorized to establish public safety departments to
safeguard and protect facilities (such as water treatment plants, water storage tanks,
wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations, and natural gas storage facilities) from
attack by terrorists or others seeking to disrupt their proper operation (S.C. Code Ann.§6-
See also “Entities with Key Responsibilities”
The governor is authorized to declare a state of emergency for all or any part of the
state due to the occurrence of a disaster or the threat of an imminent disaster, as well as
for a public health emergency. The declaration remains in force for a maximum of 15
days; after that period the consent of the General Assembly is required to continue the
state of emergency (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-440(a) (2).
The governor may declare a state of emergency due to unlawful assemblage, violence
or threats of violence, or a public health emergency. The declaration remains in full force
until it is revoked by the governor (S.C. Code Ann.§1-3-420).
The governor is authorized to appoint a Public Health Emergency Plan Committee
consisting of members who are skilled in public health emergency preparedness and
infectious diseases, who serve as a member of the judiciary, and others with relevant
expertise. The governor consults with the committee prior to declaring a public health
emergency. The statute authorizes the deployment and use of any resources and
personnel, first responders, as well as the use or distribution of necessary supplies,
equipment, material, and facilities (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-440(d)(e)).
Types of Assistance
State and local law enforcement authorities with police jurisdiction shall be notified
when any fire authority orders an evacuation of a local area. The state or local emergency
preparedness director shall be notified of the evacuation, and the fire authority must yield
control of the evacuated area upon the arrival of law enforcement assistance (S.C. Code
The Department of Revenue may extend the deadline for filing tax returns, paying
and collecting taxes, and conducting audits. The department may also waive interest and
penalties due for damages caused by war, terrorist acts, or natural disasters (S.C. Code
The governor is authorized to make financial grants to meet disaster related needs
of individuals or families. The statute limits the amount of each grant to $10,000 (S.C.
Code Ann.§25-1-440 (a)(8)(iii)).
The Interstate Civil Defense Disaster Compact authorizes the governor to enter into
an interstate emergency or disaster compact (S.C. Code Ann., Title 25, Chapter 9, Article
The Southern Regional Emergency Management Compact (the original version of
what became the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or EMAC) is codified
(S.C. Code Ann., Title 25, Chapter 9, Article 5).
The state government, as well as county and municipal governments, cooperate in
developing and maintaining a plan for mutual assistance in emergencies. The state
develops a plan and procedures to ensure the maximum use of all state resources during
emergencies resulting from enemy attack, natural, or man-made emergencies. The state
is also required to: provide state forces and resources to support local governmental
emergency operations; coordinate support with the federal government and unaffected
counties; and implement mutual assistance agreements with adjoining states. The state
government may assume the direction and control of area or local government emergency
operations when requested or necessary (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-450(1)).
Any municipality, fire district, fire protection agency, or other emergency service
entity may provide mutual aid assistance to other political subdivisions for fire,
earthquake, hurricane, flood, tornado, hazardous material events, or other disasters. The
Incident Command System must be used and agency personnel must be properly trained
and equipped (S.C. Code Ann.§6-11-1810 to 1840).
The Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact authorizes the governor
to execute a compact with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North
Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia to promote the effective prevention and
control of forest fires in the southeastern region of the United States (S.C. Code Ann.§48-
Tax revenues may be used for the operation and maintenance of police, fire
protection, emergency medical services, and emergency preparedness operations in a
county that collects at least $900,000 in accommodations taxes annually (S.C. Code
Hospitality tax revenues may be used for the operation and maintenance of police,
fire protection, emergency medical services, and emergency-preparedness operations in
a county that collects at least $900,000 in accommodations taxes (S.C. Code Ann.§6-1-
The statute establishes a continuing account for matching federal disaster assistance
funds when required by a federal agency. The account is established and maintained with
annual appropriations. The treasurer holds the funds in a separate account, which retains
all interest and other income on the funds. The funds may be disbursed only by
authorization of the governor. In a presidentially declared disaster, the governor has
recourse to funds deposited by the General Assembly into the disaster trust fund. If the
governor finds that insufficient funds exist to meet immediate disaster needs, and if the
General Assembly is not in session, the governor may request monies appropriated for
other purposes be transferred into the fund, but not to exceed $5 million in any fiscal year
(S.C. Code Ann.§11-5-230).
During a presidentially declared disaster, the governor is authorized to accept federal
funds for individual or family expenses or for serious needs that cannot be met by other
means of assistance. The governor may pledge state participation with the federal
government in funding financial assistance (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-440 (a)(8)(i-ii)).
When the General Assembly is not in session and emergency funds are required, the
state Budget and Control Board may authorize loans (not to exceed $1.5 million) to be
provided from the reserve fund to any single county or municipality for emergency and
recovery operations. Monies drawn on warrants of the board are repayable by the
borrowing county or municipality, and must be secured by the full faith and credit of the
unit of local government. Loans are to be made only when damage or destruction results
from a declared disaster, or for unbudgeted expenditures or emergency expenditures that
would be otherwise unreimbursed by the federal government (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-460).
The statute requires that the initial capitalization of a trust fund include an
emergency reserve fund to be used to rebuild beach and dune systems in qualifying public
beach areas damaged by storm events (S.C. Code Ann.§48-40-60).
Some of the proceeds obtained from the sale of “God Bless America” license plates
are to be used by the state national guard for homeland security expenses (S.C. Code
The governor is responsible for the development and coordination of a system of
comprehensive emergency management that must include provisions for mitigation and
other activities (S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-440 (b)).
Continuity of Government Operations
The Emergency Interim Legislative Succession Act provides for emergency interim
succession to the General Assembly and authorizes officers to designate three to seven
emergency interim successors and specify their order of succession. The presiding officer
of the chamber may designate emergency interim successors when necessary. Emergency
interim successors must keep generally informed as to the duties, procedures, practices
and current business of the General Assembly (S.C. Code Ann.§2-5-30 to §2-5-80).
In the event of an attack, or when an attack may be imminent, the governor may
change the place of session for the General Assembly to any place deemed safer and
convenient within or without the state (S.C. Code Ann.§ 2-5-90). If an attack occurs, the
governor is to call the General Assembly into session within 90 days. If the governor fails
to issue a call, the General Assembly automatically convenes and suspends limitations on
the length of session and on the subjects that may be acted upon (S.C. Code Ann.§ 2-5-
100). In addition, quorum requirements will be suspended and proportional voting
requirements will be amended (S.C. Code Ann.§ 2-5-130). Such special provisions expire
two years following the inception of an attack; however, 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 (S.C. Code Ann.§ 2-5-
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 any
unit of local government may establish an emergency temporary location, which may be
within or without the state (S.C. Code Ann.§6-3-10 to 30).
The governor is to reside in the capital city except in case of epidemics, natural
disaster, or the emergencies of war. When the General Assembly is in session, the
governor is to reside where its sessions are held (S.C. Constitution Article IV, § 20).
The General Assembly is to provide for prompt and temporary succession to the
powers and duties of public offices, whether filled by election or appointment, and to
adopt other measures necessary for insuring the continuity of governmental operations in
the event of an enemy attack (Constitution Article XVII, § 12).
State employees who are certified in disaster relief service may be granted paid leave
of not more than 10 work days in each calendar year to participate in disaster relief
services for the American Red Cross (S.C. Code Ann.§8-11-180).
The statute grants immunity from civil liability to persons who voluntarily and
without compensation permit their property to be used as a public shelter for civil defense
purposes (S.C. Code Ann.§25-9-120).
If the release of information could increase the risk of acts of terrorism, the statute
exempts from disclosure requirements information concerning: safeguards and off-site
consequence analyses; regulation of access; and the vulnerable zone of a facility
possessing hazardous, toxic, flammable, radioactive, or infectious materials. The director
of each agency holding such information may provide notification on the holdings to the
Attorney General and must issue regulations concerning access to the information (S.C.
In order to facilitate the early detection of a public health emergency (including those
caused by chemical terrorism, radiological terrorism, bioterrorism, and epidemics), the
Emergency Health Powers Act authorizes the collection of data and records, the control
of property, the management of persons, and access to communications and allow for
immediate investigation. The statute grants state officials authority to use and appropriate
property as necessary for the care, treatment, and housing of patients, and to destroy or
decontaminate contaminated material. The statute outlines the powers and duties
regarding the safe disposal of human remains during a public health emergency. The
Department of Health and Environmental Control may purchase and distribute antitoxins,
serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical or medical
supplies to prepare for or control a public health emergency (S.C. Code Ann.§44-4 et
The South Carolina Hazardous Waste Management Act (S.C. Code Ann.§44-56 et
seq.) requires that the Hazardous Waste Contingency Fund be established by the
Department of Health and Environmental Control to ensure an appropriate response to
hazardous waste accidents at landfills, as well as during the transportation of hazardous
material (S.C. Code Ann.§44-56-160).
Any person having care of animals must report to the state veterinarian any instance
of animal disease caused by chemical, biological, radiological terrorism or other
infectious disease agents (S.C. Code Ann.§46-7-100).
Any person responsible for agricultural production must report agricultural diseases
caused by chemical, biological, radiological terrorism or other infectious disease agents
to the Director for Regulatory and Public Service Programs of Clemson University (S.C.
The state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exempts from release information
relating to security plans and devices proposed, adopted, installed, or utilized by a public
body, other than the amount of the expenditure (S.C. Code Ann.§30-4-20(c)). The statute
also exempts information relating to structural bridge plans or designs (S.C. Code
The statute created the First Responders Advisory Committee which is to research,
study, analyze, determine, and report to legislative leadership on the needs of first
responders, including personnel involved with fire, law enforcement, emergency medical,
emergency planning and coordinating, and the 911 system and other emergency
communications (S.C. Code Ann.§23-1-230).
The statute specifies prohibited acts (curfew violations, public gatherings of three
or more and refusal to disperse) in areas included in a proclamation of a state of
emergency. During a declared disaster, a person cannot charge unconscionable prices for
any commodity in the area that is the subject of the disaster declaration (S.C. Code
Ann.§16-7-10). In addition, price gouging and false solicitation during an emergency are
prohibited (S.C. Code Ann.§39-5-145).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in South Carolina Statutes, with Citations
AttackS.C. Code Ann.§2-5-20
BioterrorismS.C. Code Ann.§44-4-130 (b)
Chemical terrorismS.C. Code Ann.§44-4-130 (d)
Public health emergency S.C. Code Ann.§44-4-130 (p)
Radiological terrorismS.C. Code Ann.§44-4-130 (t)
Emergency PreparednessS.C. Code Ann.§25-1-430
EmergencyS.C. Code Ann.§25-1-430
South Carolina Emergency Management S.C. Code Ann.§25-1-430
(Civil Defense) Organization
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for South Carolina
may be searched at: [http://www.scstatehouse.net/code/statmast.htm].