LANSING, Mich.—A bill to help local units of government respond to disasters or emergencies has been sent to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Senate Bill 330, authored by Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, specifies that the newly named Disaster and Emergency Fund can now provide grants of up to $100,000 to financially strained counties and municipalities that need assistance in responding to disasters or emergencies that are declared by the governor.

The law had capped grants at $30,000, which was not providing communities impacted by emergencies with adequate financial assistance.

“Communities across the Upper Peninsula have experienced emergency situations over the years, including the Duck Lake fire in 2012 and flooding this spring, which were real, vivid prompts of the need for this change,” said Casperson.

“I am very proud that the U.P. has stepped up once again and led the way for meaningful reform, as passage of this bill is really due to local officials and emergency managers throughout the U.P. using these emergencies to identify this need and making the case for these changes,” he said. “Through their efforts and advocacy, we found that some more help from the state in terms of response efforts would go a long ways.”

SB 330, which is designed to work in conjunction with House Bill 4760, ensures that the state has funds appropriated and available for distribution more readily to quickly respond to disasters or emergencies, which is critical for local communities.

“Having had two of Michigan’s largest forest fires in Luce County in the past, we know what a benefit the changes in the legislation would have made toward assisting in response efforts on the fires,” said Terry Stark, Luce County emergency manager. “Local funds and resources were challenged quickly during the fires. Senator Casperson’s bill was much needed to provide valuable assistance to local governments when disasters or emergencies are declared by the governor.”

Under Casperson’s measure, local units of government must submit a resolution and application asking for the assistance grant with a purpose identified, and they must be under an extraordinary financial burden with limited resources to help cover the needs associated with the disaster or emergency. The Emergency Management Division of the Michigan State Police reviews the applications and resolutions and forwards them to the governor for review.

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