The NCSL Blog


By Lucia Bragg

Phoenix—Sharing the cost of disasters between federal and state agencies—and some steps to reduce those costs—were examined during a session on “Sharing the Cost of Disasters: State and Federal Spending” at the annual NCSL Capitol Forum.

The panel explored how disaster spending is shared between levels of government, and how mitigation measures can save everyone money at a time when disaster costs are increasing.

The session was moderated by Washington Representative Roger Goodman (D), NCSL Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee co-chair, and featured the following speakers:

  • Joel Doolin, associate administrator of the Office of Policy and Program Analysis (OPPA), FEMA. Presentation.
  • Colin Foard, associate manager, Fiscal Federalism Initiative, The Pew Charitable Trusts. Presentation.
  • Ryan Colker, vice president of innovation, executive director of the Alliance for National and Community Resilience. Presentation.

Doolin provided an overview of FEMA grants available to states, with special emphasis on the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program. Authorized by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act in 2018, BRIC is a new grant program available to states on a competitive basis that provides funding for disaster mitigation projects.

Foard provided an overview of state disaster budgeting mechanisms such as rainy day funds and disaster accounts as well as a review on state disaster tracking trends from Pew’s 2018 report "What We Don't Know About State Spending on Natural Disasters Could Cost Us."

Colker provided an overview of the National Institute of Building Science’s recent “Mitigation Saves” report, detailing savings from mitigation projects and specific state policy examples.

The session provided an important opportunity for state legislators to speak with federal grants and research experts on the present and future of how disaster costs are shared between levels of government and opportunities for future collaboration.

Lucia Bragg is a policy specialist with NCSL's State-Federal Relations Division.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.