Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Newsletter

Hill Highlights

No. 1: Congress Implements CARES Act, Begins Work on Stimulus 4

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law on March 27 and provides an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package to battle the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal agencies have worked overtime to implement the CARES provisions and new updates are coming out all the time—see NCSL’s federal action and federal announcements pages for most recent updates. Some highlights of the package include:

  • Creates a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state, local and tribal governments. See estimated state allocations courtesy of Federal Funds Information for States.
  • Expands unemployment insurance (UI) from three to four months, and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits.
  • Provides a $1,200 direct payment to many Americans and $500 for each dependent child.
  • $45 billion for a Disaster Relief Fund for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal and territorial governments to protect citizens and help them respond to and recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures and community services nationwide. This amount includes:
    • $25 billion for major disasters declared for certain states under the Stafford Act.
  • $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants for emergency management activities in state, local, territorial and tribal governments to support coordination, including communications and logistics.
  • $200 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to provide shelter, food and supportive services to individuals and families in sudden economic crisis.

NCSL’s full summary can be found here.

No. 2: NCSL Holds National Emergency Briefing

NCSL held a briefing on the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration for members of the Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, as well as the Public Private Partnership on Disaster Mitigation and Recovery, on April 1. The briefing covered key developments under the Stafford Act National Emergency Declaration and the CARES Act stimulus package. A recording and overview of the briefing can be found here.

President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Service Act on Jan. 31, issued two national emergency declarations under both the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act (NEA) on March 13, and invoked emergency powers via executive order under the Defense Production Act on March 18. On March 19, Trump named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the lead agency in the COVID-19 emergency response efforts, a designation previously held by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These actions have varying implications but collectively allow the federal government to deliver critical financial assistance and flexibilities for state and local response efforts by state emergency management agencies, health agencies, governors’ offices and others. Review NCSL’s briefing for details on what these measures mean for states and how to access assistance.

No. 3: DHS and FEMA Updates on COVID-19

As COVID-19 responses continue to evolve on the state and federal levels, NCSL is tracking updates closely. See below for key developments from DHS and FEMA as of April 10.
Emergency Assistance for States:

  • Under the National Emergency Declaration, states are approved for Public Assistance, category B, “emergency protective measures”—which will cover 75% of the cost of eligible activities, such as medical facility services and supplies, nondeferrable medical treatment of infected individuals, temporary medical facilities and enhanced medical/hospital capacity, state emergency operation center costs, security and law enforcement, and more. For more details, see FEMA’s COVID-19 eligible activities fact sheet
  • FEMA will release a simplified application for assistance under COVID-19 emergency protective measures.
  • NCSL submitted a letter to FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor on April 3 urging the administrator and the president to waive all cost-share requirements under the Stafford Act.
Major Disaster Declarations and State Actions

As of April 10, every state and territory has been approved for a major disaster declaration except Wyoming, which has submitted its request for review. Major Disaster Declarations:

  1. Allow states to access more than $500 million in funding, while emergency declarations such as that declared for COVID-19 nationwide, are capped at $500 million per state.
  2. Expand the grant categories for which states are eligible to apply for reimbursement.
    1. Right now, the only additional category approved for major disaster declaration states is crisis counseling under Individual Assistance. This is because FEMA is weary of duplicating benefits provided to states by Congress via the CARES Act and other legislation, as FEMA cannot provide assistance for a need that is already met by a separate federal funding stream. FEMA is keeping close tabs on federal implementation of the stimulus package—if the agency determines certain needs remain unmet, they could make additional categories available to states, such as Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Mass Care and Emergency Assistance, Disaster Legal Services and others.
National Guard Coverage

States can request 100% federal coverage of National Guard costs for COVID-19 response under Title 21—see here for details on how to apply. To date, the president has approved 38 National Guard requests under 100% federal cost share for the use of National Guard personnel in COVID-19 response, Title 32 duty status.

  • Requests approved include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Eleven requests are pending approval.
Ventilator Requests—State Numbers and Federal Guidance

Considering both scarcity of ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and current capacity of the private sector to meet demand, the federal government has adopted a process to manage federal ventilator resources to ensure the right amount of ventilators are shipped to the right states to sustain life within a 72-hour window. Emergency managers and public health officials submit requests for ventilators to FEMA/HHS, providing detailed data on:

  • Total medical/ hospital beds.
  • Total acute care (ICU) beds.
  • Normal occupancy.
  • Predicted surge occupancy and number of ventilators available in the state.
  • States can send requests outside of the 72-hour window for consideration by the federal government. Allocation decisions and/or shipments, however, should not be expected until the state is within the immediate 72-hour window.
  • The federal government has approximately 7,159 total ventilators available: 6,860 in the Strategic National Stockpile; 299 from the Department of Defense.

As of April 8, FEMA and HHS have provided or are currently shipping 10,540 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and the Defense Department to: Alaska (60), California/LA County (170), Colorado (100), Connecticut (150), Delaware (50), Florida (200), Georgia (150), Guam (30), Illinois (400), Louisiana (350), Maryland (470), Massachusetts (400), Michigan (700), the Navajo Nation (50), Nevada (150), New Jersey (1,858), New York (4,400), Oregon (140), Washington (500) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (20).

  • Governor Kate Brown of Oregon sent the state’s 140 ventilators directly to New York.
  • Governor Jay Inslee of Washington is returning 400 of the state’s 500 ventilators to the SNS to be deployed to areas of greatest need.
  • Governor Gavin Newsom of California is sending 500 state-owned ventilators to medical hot spots across the country through Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC). States that will receive these ventilators include New York (100), New Jersey (100), Illinois (100), Maryland (100), Delaware (50), Washington, D.C. (50), and Nevada (50).

In addition to ventilators, as of April 9, FEMA and HHS have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 48.6 million N95 respirators, 57.6 million surgical masks, 5.5 million face shields, 9 million surgical gowns, 105 million gloves, 212,000 coveralls, 9,090 ventilators and 8,500 federal medical station beds.

DHS Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance 2.0

Originally published on March 19, an updated version of the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency’s essential critical infrastructure worker guidance is available here. This list is advisory in nature—it is not a federal directive or standard nor is it intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance. DHS plans to release a 3.0 version of this guidance in the coming days.

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NCSL Coronavirus Resources Webpage

NCSL is committed to providing our members with timely responses to state research requests and the essential knowledge needed to guide state action. This webpage reflects new resources in policy areas ranging from education to health care costs and access. Check back often—resources will be updated as they become available.