Alaska Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
CRS Report for Congress
Alaska Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
March 17, 2004
Specialist, American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Analyst, American National Government
Government and Finance Division
L. Cheryl Runyon and Kae Warnock
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Alaska Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
Alaska’s emergency management statute clarifies and strengthens the roles of
the governor, state agencies, and local governments in prevention and preparation for
response and recovery from a disaster. The statute also addresses the prevention of
disasters caused or aggravated by inadequate planning for, and regulation of, public
and private facilities and land use. State and local emergency management plans are
tied to environmental plans to create a coordinated response to disasters. Other
provisions reside in the civil defense statute which expands gubernatorial and
emergency powers and mutual aid agreements to respond to an enemy 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............................................4
Continuity of Government Operations..............................6
For Further Research...........................................8
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security Terms
Defined in Alaska Statutes, with Citations..........................7
Alaska Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor is responsible for meeting the dangers presented by
disasters and, accordingly, may issue, amend or rescind orders, proclamations, and
regulations (Alaska Stat. §26.23.020(a),(b)). The governor may also suspend
provisions of any statute, use available resources, transfer personnel or functions of
departments, commandeer property, compel relocation, control ingress and egress
within a disaster area, make provisions for temporary emergency housing, and
allocate food, water, fuel or clothing (Alaska Stat. §26.23.020(g)(1)-(10)). The
statute authorizes the governor to lease or lend real or personal state property to the
President of the United States and the armed forces, or to any district of the state
(Alaska Stat. § 26.20.110). The governor serves as commander-in-chief of the armed
forces of the state and may call out these forces to execute laws, suppress or prevent
insurrection or lawless violence, or repel invasion (Alaska Constitution, Article 3,
Section 3.19). The governor also serves as commander-in-chief of the militia and all
other available state forces, and may delegate or assign command authority during
a disaster emergency (Alaska Stat. §26.23.020 (c),(e),(f)). The governor may direct
the creation of an interjurisdictional relationship, a joint disaster emergency plan,
mutual aid, or an area organization for emergency planning and services and may
establish “an international relationship, mutual aid, or an area organization for
disaster” if an area lies partly within the state and includes territory in a foreign
jurisdiction (Alaska Stat. §26.23.070).
Alaska Division of Emergency Services: The Division is created in the
Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (Alaska Stat. §26.23.030). The
mission of the division is to prepare and maintain the state emergency plan. Division
officials determine requirements for and procure food, clothing, and other necessities
in the event of a disaster emergency and pre-position supplies, medicines, materials,
and equipment. The Division adopts standards and requirements for local and
interjurisdictional disaster plans and prepares gubernatorial orders, proclamations,
and regulations as necessary. The Division is also authorized to award grants for
forming and funding local emergency planning committees (Alaska Stat.
Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs: The Department may assume
direct operational control over all or any part of civil defense functions and may:
issue, adopt, amend, and rescind orders and regulations; prepare a comprehensive
civil defense plan; ascertain requirements for food, clothing or other necessities of
life; and use and employ any property, services, and resources (Alaska Stat.
§26.20.020). Also, the Department may control traffic for evacuation over public
highways and streets of people, troops, or vehicles and material (Alaska Stat.
§26.20.100). The adjutant general serves as liaison between the state and the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (Alaska Stat. §26.05.160).
Local organizations for civil defense: Each district establishes a local
organization for civil defense. Each local director receives and expends funds, makes
contracts, obtains and distributes equipment and supplies, provides for the staffing
of both paid and volunteer workers and for the health and safety of persons and
property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any disaster resulting from
an enemy attack (Alaska Stat. §26.20.060). Local directors may adopt, amend, and
rescind orders and regulations necessary for civil defense (Alaska Stat. §26.20.120).
Response corps and emergency response depots: The Department of Military
and Veterans’ Affairs may establish a response corps, available on short notice,
consisting of volunteers trained in techniques for emergency and disaster response.
Members of the corps are entitled to per diem and expenses for training and days
spent in service to the state. The Department may maintain emergency response
depots in areas identified for that purpose in the state emergency plan (Alaska Stat.
Local and interjurisdictional disaster services: Each political subdivision is
responsible for disaster preparedness and the coordination of response efforts, or may
establish an interjurisdictional planning and service area. The chief executive officer
for each subdivision reports to the Division of Emergency Services on disaster
planning, and prepares local or interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans consistent
with regional master plans relating to release of a hazardous substance (Alaska Stat.
Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission: The Commission is established in
the Department of Natural Resources to advise on the coordination of disaster
preparedness and seismic hazard mitigation activities; review practices for recovery
and reconstruction after a major earthquake; and recommend improvements to
mitigate losses from future events (Alaska Stat. §44.37.065-.069).
Alaska State Emergency Response Commission: Established within the
Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs, the Commission implements
provisions of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act,
facilitates and reviews emergency response plans, and establishes local planning
committees (Alaska Stat. §26.23.071). The Commission sets boundaries of local
emergency planning districts and appoints members of local emergency planning
committees (Alaska Stat. §26.23.073). Also, the Commission reviews and makes
recommendations regarding local and state emergency plans (Alaska Stat.
Local Emergency Planning Committees: Each committee must prepare a local
emergency plan and evaluate resources needed to carry out the plan and advise
political subdivisions on emergency planning, training, and response (Alaska Stat.
The state emergency plan may include provisions regarding: prevention and
mitigation, effective response, emergency relief, identification of areas of
vulnerability, land use controls, and assisting local officials in developing emergency
plans. The plan may provide authorization for the construction of temporary works
for disaster prevention or mitigation and the organization of manpower and chains
of command (Alaska Stat. §26.23.040(a-d)). The plan must be substantially
equivalent to local, state and regional plans prepared by the Department of
Environmental Conservation relating to the release of a hazardous substance, and
must include an incident command system (Alaska Stat. §26.23.070(d)).
Emergency plans for facilities containing or transporting hazardous substances
must include the identification of facilities, methods of response, and other
information (Alaska Stat. §26.23.075).
The governor may create mobile support units as necessary to reinforce civil
defense in stricken areas and may appoint a commander for each unit (Alaska Stat.
See also various sections in “Entities with Key Responsibilities.”
The governor is authorized to declare “a condition of disaster emergency,”
which remains in effect until the danger has passed or the disaster been managed so
the emergency no longer exists, but not longer than 30 days unless extended by the
legislature by a concurrent resolution. The proclamation must state whether the
governor proposes to expend state funds to respond to the disaster, activates disaster
response and recovery aspects, and constitutes authority for the deployment and use
of any force, or any supplies, equipment, materials. The governor may terminate the
emergency by proclamation (Alaska Stat. §26.23.020 (c),(e)).
A local disaster emergency may only be declared by the principal executive
officer of political subdivision. A declaration activates the response and recovery
aspects of local or interjurisdictional disaster emergency plans and authorizes
furnishing of aid and assistance. A representative of an interjurisdictional disaster
planning and service area may not declare a local disaster emergency unless expressly
authorized by the principal executive officer of each political subdivision in the
emergency area (Alaska Stat. §26.23.140).
Concurrently with the proclamation, the governor must deliver a comprehensive
financing plan to the presiding officers and chairs of the finance committees in each
house of the legislature. If the declaration occurs during a regular or special
legislative session, “actions taken by the governor under this chapter after the close
of the session that are not ratified by law adopted during that session are void.” The
legislature may terminate a disaster emergency at any time. (Alaska Stat. §26.23.025
Types of Assistance
The statute authorizes the state to accept services, gifts, grants, and loans by the
federal government or others for services, equipment, supplies, materials or funds for
civil defense purposes (Alaska Stat. §26.20.150).
A municipality may provide for the assessment or reassessment and reduction
of taxes for property destroyed, damaged, or otherwise reduced in value as a result
of a natural disaster. A reduction of taxes may be made only on losses in excess of
$1,000 for the remainder of the year following the disaster (Alaska Stat. §29.45.230).
The director of the division of lands may make grants of state land to persons
and municipal corporations to replace land which is rendered unusable by a natural
disaster for the purposes for which it was used before the natural disaster (Alaska
The governor may establish temporary housing for disaster victims or assist
political subdivisions seeking to acquire sites, and may temporarily suspend or
modify any public health, safety, zoning, transportation, or other requirement of law,
for a period of not to exceed 60 days, when essential to provide temporary housing
for victims. The statute authorizes the use of temporary housing units from any
federal agency, and “pass through” funds (Alaska Stat. §26.23.100).
A municipality that is wholly or partially in a declared disaster area may
participate in and provide for housing, urban renewal, and redevelopment in the same
manner as a home rule city. Such participation must be initiated not more than five
years after the date of declaration of a natural disaster, and may be extended for an
additional period of not more than three years (Alaska Stat. §29.35.040).
The governor may direct that debris and wreckage that may threaten public
health, safety, or property be cleared from publicly or privately owned land or water,
and may apply for funds from the federal government for that purpose. Affected
political subdivisions, corporations, organizations, or individuals must
unconditionally authorize the work and, in the case of private property, must first
agree to indemnify the state government against claims arising from the removal
(Alaska Stat. §26.23.110).
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Alaska Stat.
The National Guard Mutual Assistance Compact is codified (Alaska Stat.
Chapter 26.25. et. seq.).
The governor may enter into reciprocal aid agreements with other states and
with the federal government, or a province of a foreign country. Such agreements are
limited to furnishing or exchanging food, clothing, medicine, and other supplies,
engineering services, emergency housing, and police and other emergency services
(Alaska Stat. §26.20.030).
The director of each local organization for civil defense may develop mutual-aid
arrangements with other public and private agencies in the state for reciprocal civil
defense aid and assistance (Alaska Stat. §26.20.050).
Political subdivisions are encouraged and assisted by the Division of Emergency
Services to make arrangements for mutual aid in coping with disasters. The governor
may require an interjurisdictional agreement where political subdivisions in an area
have available equipment, supplies, and forces necessary to provide mutual aid on
a regional basis (Alaska Stat. §26.23.180).
Under prescribed circumstances, the governor may negotiate a special
agreement with a jurisdiction that has not enacted the Emergency Management
Assistance Compact (Alaska Stat. 26.23.070(c))
The adoption of mutual fire aid agreements is authorized. (Alaska Stat.
See also “Entities with Key Responsibilities,” Governor.
The statute creates a disaster relief fund in the Office of the Governor, with the
Department of Revenue as custodian of the fund. The statute authorizes the governor
to expend the fund’s assets to implement relevant provisions of law, and alleviate the
effects of a disaster or an incident, by making grants or loans to persons or political
subdivisions (Alaska Stat. §26.23.300).
The governor may use money from the oil and hazardous substance release
response account to respond to a declared disaster emergency related to an oil or
hazardous substance discharge (Alaska Stat. §26.23.020(g)(11)). Up to $500,000 of
state funds may be expended per incident per fiscal year for prevention or response,
and more may be expended with legislative approval or under certain conditions. If
the governor declares a disaster emergency, up to $1,000,000 of state funds may be
expended per fiscal year, including assets of the disaster relief fund. More may be
expended with legislative approval. If the disaster is a fire, the governor may expend
state funds as necessary to save lives, protect property and public health and safety
(Alaska Stat. §26.23.020 (h)-(k)).
The first recourse for funds needed to cope with a disaster is to regular
appropriations to state and local agencies. The second recourse is the disaster relief
fund or, where applicable, the oil and hazardous substance release prevention and
response fund. If money available from these sources is insufficient, and if other
sources are not available or are insufficient, the governor may transfer and spend
money appropriated for other purposes or borrow money for a term not to exceed two
years (Alaska Stat. §26.23.050).
During a presidentially declared disaster, the governor may accept federal aid
to meet the needs of affected individuals or families, and may pledge the state to
provide not more than 25% of the assistance. The statute authorizes acceptance of
an advance on the state’s share from federal funds to be repaid when the state is able
to do so. The governor makes financial grants to individuals or families, and sets
separate limits for presidentially declared disasters and disasters declared by the
governor (Alaska Stat. §26.23.090).
The governor may apply to the federal government for aid on behalf of a local
government, or upon a demonstrated need for financial assistance, and may
recommend the cancellation of all or any part of repayment when a local government
is unable to meet operating expenses (Alaska Stat. §26.23.080).
The governor must consider steps that could be taken to prevent or reduce the
harmful consequences of disasters. State agencies, including those charged with
flood plain management, stream encroachment and flow regulation, weather
modification, fire prevention and control, environmental quality, public works, land
use and land use planning, and construction standards, are required to make studies
of disaster-prevention-related matters. The governor makes recommendations to
agencies and the legislature. The Division of Emergency Services is authorized to
propose changes to zoning and land use regulations and statutes where appropriate
(Alaska Stat. §26.23.150).
See “Entities with Key Responsibilities,” Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission
Continuity of Government Operations
The statute authorizes the governor to declare an emergency temporary location
or locations not normally considered military target sites for the seat of government
due to an emergency resulting from enemy attack or imminent attack. The
emergency temporary location remains as the seat of government until the governor
terminates the emergency. All acts performed at the temporary location are valid and
binding (Alaska Stat. §44.99.007-008).
The statute requires legislation to provide for succession to the office of
governor and for an acting governor in the event that the lieutenant governor is
unable to succeed to the office or act as governor (Alaska Constitution, Article 3,
The governor must appoint a person qualified to be governor as successor to the
lieutenant governor, who must be confirmed by legislature. The statute provides for
succession to the offices of governor and lieutenant governor until a special election,
and addresses filling simultaneous vacancies (Alaska Stat. §44.19.040-46).
District employees who provide outside aid have same powers, duties, rights,
privileges, and immunities as if they were performing their duties in the district in
which they are normally employed (Alaska Stat. §26.20.070).
A person owning or controlling real estate who voluntarily and without
compensation permits use of property for the purpose of sheltering persons during
an actual or practice attack shall be immune from suit for negligence arising out of
the construction or maintenance of the property (Alaska Stat. §26.20.145).
The statute prohibits the employment in a civil defense organization of persons
who advocate a change by force or violence in the constitutional form of the
government of the United States or the state or who have been convicted of or are
under indictment for a subversive act against the United States. The statute requires
that civil defense employees take a loyalty oath of office (Alaska Stat. §26.20.160).
The statute gives mobile support unit personnel the same powers, duties, rights,
privileges, and immunities as they are entitled to in their normal employ in a state or
district and provides compensation, rights and immunities to others. State to
reimburse for use of mobile support unit of another state (Alaska Stat. §26.20.080).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Alaska Statutes, with Citations
Civil defenseAlaska Stat. § 26.20.200 (1)
DisasterAlaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (2)
Disaster preparednessAlaska Stat. § 44.19.639 (2)
Disaster emergencyAlaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (3)
EmergencyAlaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (4)
Hazardous substanceAlaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (5)
Local Emergency PlanningAlaska Stat. § 26.23.073 (d)
Major disaster Alaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (6)
Seismic hazard mitigation/mitigation Alaska Stat. § 44.19.639 (3)
Temporary housingAlaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (8)
Unorganized militia Alaska Stat. § 26.23.900 (9)
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Alaska may
be searched at: [http://www.legis.state.ak.us/folhome.htm].