FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Capitol: (405) 557-7305
Dorman and Corn Want Priority on Disaster Funding
Oklahoma City – State Rep. Joe Dorman and State Sen. Kenneth Corn have filed legislation to secure state matching dollars for Oklahoma’s emergency disasters through a self-executing funding system that will avoid the legislative appropriations process.
House Bill 3087, by Dorman and Corn, requires that money from the state’s Constitutional Reserve Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund) be used to provide matching funds for federal disaster relief reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The bill establishes that the emergency funding be provided before Rainy Day Fund money is used for any other purpose and be automatically appropriated when the state receives the certification of disaster costs from the federal government.
"This will secure the funding needed to assist Oklahoma families when disaster strikes," said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. "These individuals should not have to wait to rebuild their lives. This should be our number one priority when it comes to tapping our state’s emergency fund."
"The swift reaction from state government can help our communities to rebuild and move forward. I believe that the purpose of the Rainy Day fund is to meet emergency needs," said Corn, D-Poteau. "There is no greater need than coming to the aid of our communities and our people."
Currently, in most cases, the federal government will fund 75 percent of the disaster relief leaving the local with 12.5 percent and the state 12.5 percent.
"The state still owed money from the ice storms of 2000 up until just a couple of years ago when the Legislature finally appropriated the required state portion of the money. That delay left the counties, communities, electric co-ops and many other entities with unpaid bills due to legislative negligence by not providing the 12.5 percent match," said Dorman. "This measure will make sure this never happens again. Communities will not have to wait until we return to session or, as we have seen recently, for years after to finally get their funds."
House Bill 3087 establishes a constitutional amendment that would be voted on by the people of Oklahoma in November. The bill currently sits in the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives. Dorman and Corn have requested a hearing for this legislation from Speaker Chris Benge before the deadline for bills to be discussed in committee.