Book Review – ABA's Homeland Security and Emergency Mangement

One advantage to attending an ABA Annual Meeting is that you get to meet some movers and shakers in the legal world. One such mover and shaker is Ernest Abbott, Esq. whom I sat next to at a State and Local Government Section meeting. He was discussing his book on Homeland Security and Emergency Management Law. I picked up a copy last month and thought a book review would be appropriate. You can buy it at the ABA bookstore here. Broadly speaking, this book is a must for government attorneys (whether federal, state or local) but also attorneys who may be called upon by their clients to provide advice in a disaster context. Surprisingly, there are many legal issues associated with disasters (planning and response) and they may not be readily apparent to the business community. At the meeting, Ernie told me there were only a handful of counties, nation-wide, that did not have any declared federal disasters. Homeland Security and Emergency Management A Legal Guide for State and Local Governments by Ernest B. Abbott and Otto J. Hetzel, Editors Part I: Federalism, Open Government, and the Role of the Miliary Chapter 1: Catastrophic Events, the Law, and Federalism – This chapter provides a broad overview of the interplay between catastrophic events and the U.S. legal system, to include the Constitution, the National Incident Management System. Chapter 2: Public Disclosure of Information by Emergency Services Agencies – This chapter discusses the competing tensions between community's right to know information about the hazards in their environs and the need to keep such information protected. It includes discussion of FOIA and state equivalents. Chapter 3: The Posse Comitatus Act and Disaster Response – A favorite for military attorneys and Civil War buffs, the Posse Comitatus Act directly constrains U.S. military activities in the disaster response context. There are several exceptions and the law only applies to certain military branches and certain operations. Part II: Prevention and Mitigation Chapter 4: The New Information Sharing Environment – This is an interesting chapter which discusses "fusion centers." These centers are becoming increasingly used in the post-9/11 world to coalesce data, intelligence and foster information sharing. There are obvious civil liberty concerns and privacy issues associated with these centers. Chapter 5: State and Local Governments and Immigration Laws – This chapter provides an overview of immigration issues from the local government perspective. Plainly Arizona's SB1070 and the litigation flowing therefrom will guide these issues going forward. Chapter 6: The Role of the Private Sector in Emergency Preparedness, Planning, and Response – This chapter discusses the private sector, particularly the owners of critical infrastructure. It discusses planning, information sharing, the relevant federal plans and relationships, insurance and the future of governmental roles in private sector planning. Chapter 7: Protecting the Public Through Hazard Mitigation Planning – (written by our friend from the State and Local Government Section, Dwight Merriam) This chapter takes FEMA guidance and goes from the global level to the nitty gritty of hazard and disaster mitigation planning. Part III: Preparedness and Response Chapter 8: Sources of Public Funding for Preparedness – This chapter addresses the chief issue for most governments responding to disasters – chiefly, funding. It discusses funding of preparedness, the various governmental grant programs, including those for medical, infrastructure and communications projects. Chapter 9: National Response Framework – This chapter discusses disaster response from a federal perspective with [warning] acronyms to help local governments wade into the bureaucracy associated with responses to disasters. Chapter 10: National Response Framework – This chapter discusses disaster response from a State level perspective. Chapter 11: Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies – Ironically, this chapter has the most history of judicial decisions providing practitioners guidance. The pre-antibiotic world required a more robust public health response than the post-antibiotic world does. This chapter discusses vaccinations, forced medical treatment and quarantines. It also touches on private property issues. Chapter 12: Marshalling Resources – This chapter hits on the practical issues of responses. Workers's compensation, third party liability, command and control and licensing/certification. It also touches on mutual aid agreements, both intra-state, inter-government (including tribes) and interstate. Chapter 13: Donations and Volunteer Management – This chapter discusses donations and volunteers which, I'm sure most would agree, are a treasured tradition in America. But, managing these entities can be daunting. Chapter 14: Be Prepared and Know When to Evacuate – This chapter provides an overview of evacuation and sheltering issues. Chapter 15: Representing Local Governments in Catastrophic Events – This chapter, written by Ernie Abbott, provides the meat of how local governments need legal work to assist with disaster response, particularly in the funding area. Chapter 16: Continuity of Essential Legal Services in the Wake of Catastrophe – The final chapter visits some practical lessons of Hurricane Katrina, paying attention to the legal services, elections and other governmental functions that are core principles of democracies, but which are challenging to create in a post-disaster region. Finally, the authors have provided legal checklists and a CD with the applicable studies, proclamations and other authorities. All in all, this is a must for attorneys at the local, tribal, state, military and federal levels.

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