Utah Emergency Management and Homeland Security Statutory Authorities Summarized
CRS Report for Congress
Utah Emergency Management
and Homeland Security
Statutory Authorities Summarized
May 27, 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
Utah Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Statutory Authorities Summarized
The Utah Emergency Services and Homeland Security Act created the Division
of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, outlined procedures for hazardous
materials emergencies and search and rescue, and provided for mutual aid
agreements. Financial support for emergency management activities is derived from
federal grants, state matching money, and a state disaster trust fund. The Emergency
Interim Succession Act provides for succession of powers of the governor, state
officers and judges in emergencies. Other provisions allow the state and local seats
of government to be relocated in an emergency.
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............................................3
Continuity of Government Operations..............................5
For Further Research...........................................7
List of Tables
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland
Security Terms Defined in Utah Statutes, with Citations...............6
Utah Emergency Management and
Homeland Security Statutory Authorities
Entities with Key Responsibilities
Governor: The governor is authorized to suspend the provisions of any order or
rule of any state agency if strict compliance with the provisions would substantially
prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to respond to an emergency (Utah Code
Ann. §63-5a-7). During a state of emergency, the governor may purchase or lease
public or private property for public use including food and medical supplies,
clothing, shelter, transportation, and other necessary goods. The statute provides that
compensation be paid to the owner of property taken or used at the governor’s
direction (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-8).
During a declared state of emergency, the governor is authorized to utilize all
available resources; evacuate all or part of the population from any stricken or
threatened area; suspend or limit the sale, distribution, or transportation of alcoholic
beverages, explosives, and combustibles; control ingress and egress to and from a
disaster area; and order debris and wreckage removal from publicly or privately
owned land or water. The statute holds harmless the state government against any
claim arising from the removal of debris and wreckage (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-1
Disaster Emergency Advisory Council: The council is charged with providing
advice to the governor on matters relating to the state’s emergency disaster response
and recovery actions and activities. The council meets at the call of the governor,
and is chaired by the commissioner of public safety (Utah Code Ann. §63-5-4).
Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security: The division, created
within the Department of Emergency Management, is headed by a director appointed
by the commissioner of public safety with the approval of the governor. The director
serves as the executive and administrative head of the division, and must be
experienced in administration and possess additional qualifications as determined by
the commissioner and as provided by law (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-103). The division
implements policies set out by the governor and the legislature, and performs
functions relating to emergency services and homeland security matters as directed
by the commissioner. Staff of the division prepare plans to prevent and minimize
injury and damage, provide for response and recovery, and identify areas vulnerable
to disasters. In addition, the division is charged with coordinating hazard mitigation
and other preventive and preparedness measures, providing assistance to local
officials in the design of local emergency action plans, and coordinating federal,
state, and local emergency and search and rescue activities. The division may consult
with the Legislative Management Committee, the Judicial Council, and legislative
and judicial staff offices to assist those organizations with the preparation of
emergency succession plans and procedures (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-104).
Hazardous Chemical Emergency Response Commission: The commission must
engage in emergency planning activities, including preparation of policy and
procedure and rulemaking necessary for implementation of the federal Emergency
Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (Utah Code Ann. §53-1-106). The
statute designates the commissioner of public safety and the executive director of the
Department of Environmental Quality, or their designees, as members of the
Hazardous Chemical Emergency Response Commission. The Department of Public
Safety has primary responsibility for all emergency planning activities, and must
prepare appropriate policies and procedures and make rules necessary for
implementation of the act. The Department of Environmental Quality has primary
responsibility for receiving, processing, and managing hazardous chemical
information and notifications under the federal act (Utah Code Ann. §63-5-5).
See “Entities with Key Responsibilities,” Division of Emergency Services and
The governor may declare a state of emergency after proclamation of a local
emergency if the governor finds a disaster has occurred or a disaster is imminent in
any area where state government assistance is required to supplement local efforts.
A state of emergency continues until the threat or danger has passed or the emergency
conditions no longer exist. A declaration may continue for no longer than 30 days
unless extended by joint resolution of the legislature, which may also terminate a
state of emergency by joint resolution at any time. During the state of emergency the
governor serves as commander-in-chief of the military forces of the state (Utah Code
A local emergency may be declared by proclamation of the principal executive
officer of a political subdivision, and may not be continued or renewed for a period
in excess of 30 days without the consent of the governing body of the political
subdivision. The declaration may be used as the basis for requesting and obtaining
state or federal government disaster assistance, and activates the response and
recovery aspects of all applicable local disaster emergency plans (Utah Code Ann.
The governor may declare a state of energy emergency when an existing or
imminent severe disruption or shortage in the supply of one or more energy resources
threatens the availability of essential services, transportation, or the operation of the
economy. Such a declaration requires the consent of the legislature or the advice of
the Legislative Management Committee and continues for 60 days unless rescinded
by the governor. A second proclamation issued within 30 days of the expiration of
the first for the same emergency is considered a renewal or extension. A
proclamation may be renewed or extended only by joint resolution of the legislature
(Utah Code Ann. §63-53a-6).
Types of Assistance
The statute created the Search and Rescue Financial Assistance Program within
the Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security. The program is funded
by voluntary contributions for search and rescue operations, search and rescue
surcharges, and appropriations made by the legislature. Monies given to counties for
all or a portion of reimbursable expenses for search and rescue operations are subject
to approval by the Search and Rescue Advisory Board. Funds may not be used to
reimburse paid personnel costs (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-107). The statute also
created the Search and Rescue Advisory Board and specified board membership,
term, and compensation or per diem reimbursement (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-108).
Applications for reimbursement of eligible expenses for county search and
rescue operations must be submitted to the board, which is authorized to determine
the amount of reimbursement. The board maintains key search and rescue statistical
data from each county and disburses funds to eligible applicants until program
monies are depleted in that fiscal year (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-109).
During a presidentially declared state of emergency, the governor is authorized
to enter into agreement with any agency of the United States for temporary housing
units to be occupied by disaster victims. The governor may help any political
subdivision acquire necessary sites and utilities by passing through any federal funds
and may temporarily suspend or modify any public health, safety, zoning,
transportation or other requirement of the law or regulation if such action is essential
to provide temporary housing for disaster victims (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-3 (2)(a-
The governor is authorized to accept federal funds for individual or family
expenses or serious needs that cannot be otherwise adequately met by other means
of assistance (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-3 (2)(f)).
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is codified (Utah Code Ann.
§53-2-202). The Department of Public Safety is authorized to implement the
provisions of EMAC (Utah Code Ann. §53-1-106).
The governor is authorized to execute a compact on behalf of the state with any
one or more of the states and the District of Columbia (Utah Code Ann. §39-5-1).
The governor is authorized to execute an interstate agreement or compact with
any other state or states, only concerning matters relating to a disaster affecting or
likely to affect the state. The agreement continues in force until legislative or
gubernatorial action is taken to withdraw. Political subdivisions are authorized to
enter into mutual aid compacts with other political subdivisions for cooperative
disaster response and recovery assistance support (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-9).
The Western Interstate Nuclear Compact is codified (Utah Code Ann. §63-41).
The director of the Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security may
recover expenses from persons whose negligent actions caused a hazardous materials
emergency. If the cost directly associated with an emergency response exceeds all
available funds within a fiscal year, the division may, with approval from the
governor, incur a deficit in its line item budget. The legislature must subsequently
provide a supplemental appropriation to cover the deficit. Any political subdivision
may enact local ordinances to provide for the recovery of expenses (Utah Code Ann.
The director of the division may use disaster response and recovery funds to
provide: transportation to and from a disaster scene; accommodations at the disaster
scene; and emergency purchase of response equipment and supplies in direct support
of a disaster. Funds may not be allocated to a political subdivision unless the
situation exceeds its capability to respond to the disaster and no other resources are
available (Utah Code Ann. §53-2-106).
During a declared disaster the governor is authorized to apply to the federal
government for aid on behalf of a local government if it has demonstrated a need for
financial assistance in order to perform its governmental functions. The governor
may recommend cancellation of all or any part of a repayment when a unit of local
government is unable to meet operating expenses. The amount included on such an
application is limited to 25% of the annual operating budget of the political
subdivision for the fiscal year (Utah Code Ann. §63-5a-3 (2)(d)).
The statute created the Utah Seismic Safety Commission to review earthquake-
related hazards and risks. The Commission prepares and prioritizes
recommendations to identify and mitigate the hazards and risks, provide information
to individuals and groups concerned with earthquake safety, and promote earthquake
loss reduction measures. The commission may accept contributions from other
private or public sources and seek grants or funding from the federal government for
uses relating to seismic safety (Utah Code Ann. §63C-6-101 to 102).
With the approval of the chairman of the Disaster Emergency Advisory Council,
the state engineer may exercise emergency powers when any reservoir or stream has
reached or will reach a level far enough above average and in excess of capacity that
the public safety is, or is likely to be, endangered. The emergency powers consist of
the authority to control stream flow and reservoir storage or release. Also, the state
engineer is authorized to control the stream flow and reservoir storage or releases,
assist counties in emergency flood mitigation on intercounty waterways under certain
conditions; assist counties in emergency flood mitigation planning decisions; furnish
technical services; make recommendations; and act as the final decision-making
authority on related matters (Utah Code Ann. §73-2-22, 23).
Continuity of Government Operations
The Emergency Interim Succession Act provides for a line of emergency interim
successors to the governor (Utah Code Ann. §63-5b-101).
The statute authorizes each state officer to designate three qualified emergency
interim successors from within his department who meet any constitutional
qualifications for the office, and to specify their order of succession. If any state
officer or the deputy is unavailable following a disaster, a designated emergency
interim successor shall exercise the powers and duties of the office (Utah Code Ann.
The Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security may consult with
the Legislative Management Committee, the Judicial Council, and legislative and
judicial staff offices to assist in preparing emergency succession plans and
procedures (Utah Code Ann. §63-5b-301).
If the governor (or interim successor) declares a state of emergency, the
legislature shall be called into session as soon as practicable. If the governor or
successor determines that the prescribed place of session is unsafe he may change the
place of session to any place in the state (Utah Code Ann. §63-5b-302).
Persons authorized to act as governor, emergency interim successors, and
special emergency judges, exercise the powers and duties of the office to which they
succeed only when a disaster has occurred (Utah Code Ann. §63-5b-502).
The governor may declare an emergency temporary location for the seat of
government whenever it becomes imprudent, inexpedient, or impossible to conduct
the affairs of the state government at the regular location due to an emergency
resulting from the effects of a disaster (Utah Code Ann. §63-5b-601).
When state and local government operations are seriously disrupted as a result
of natural or man-made disaster, or by enemy attack, the legislature may provide for
temporary succession to the powers and duties of any elected or appointed public
office. The legislature may adopt measures to insure the continuity of governmental
operations including, but not limited to, financing (Utah Constitution, Article VI,
The department of health must develop and implement, in cooperation with
appropriate state, federal, and local agencies, plans to provide emergency medical
services during times of disaster or emergency (Utah Code Ann. §26-8a-204).
The Department of Health is charged with ascertaining whether illnesses or
conditions are caused by bioterrorism or other actions, and investigates all cases for
sources of infection or exposure. The department must close, evacuate, or
decontaminate any facility that may endanger the public health due to a condition or
illness (Utah Code Ann. §26-23b-108).
The statute grants immunity from civil liability to any person owning or
controlling real estate or other premises who voluntarily, without compensation,
allows property to be used to shelter persons during an actual, impending, mock or
practice attack (Utah Code Ann. §39-5-3).
Table 1. Key Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Terms Defined in Utah Statutes, with Citations
AttackUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102 (1), §63-5-
BioterrorismUtah Code Ann. §26-23b-102 (1)
DisasterUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102(3), §63-5-
Emergency interim successorUtah Code Ann. §63-5b-102 (6)
Epidemic or pandemic diseaseUtah Code Ann. §26-23b-102 (4)
Hazardous materials emergencyUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102 (6)
Internal disturbanceUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102 (7), §63-
Local emergencyUtah Code Ann. §63-5a-2 (7)
Natural phenomenaUtah Code Ann. §63-5-2 (4), §53-2-
Natural phenomenonUtah Code Ann. §63-5a-2 (4), §63-5b-
Public health emergencyUtah Code Ann. §26-23b-102 (6)
State of emergencyUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102 (9), §63-
Technological hazardUtah Code Ann. §53-2-102 (10), §63-
For Further Research
The citations noted above and other elements of the state code for Utah may be
searched at: [http://www.le.state.ut.us/Documents/code_const.htm].