Committee approves Rep. Marino bill to reform disaster funds

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The House Appropriations Committee today approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township) that reforms the way state disaster funding is distributed to Michigan communities.

Marino said his bill, along with a companion bill introduced by State Rep. Diana Farrington (R- Utica), will strengthen the process of receiving emergency funds during a catastrophe.

“Disasters are becoming more and more expensive, as demonstrated by the Macomb sinkhole, and you can never be too prepared to respond to an emergency,” Marino said. “Let’s say something (a disaster) occurs on a Thursday after the Senate has adjourned for the day. It would be very difficult to obtain funding for an immediate need.”

Under Marino’s bill, the Legislature would maintain the minimum balance of the fund at $2.5 million instead of the current balance of $1 million.

Farrington’s bill sets up a tier system for a county or municipality, allowing a maximum assistance grant of $1 million for populations of 75,000 or more; $500,000 for  populations between 25,000 and under 75,000; and $250,000 for local governments with 25,000 people or fewer. The current maximum grant is $100,000 for any county or municipality.

“If you look at recent history, disasters in our communities have exceeded $2.5 million in a number of cases,” Marino said. “This is a conservative amount, but it still speaks to the need for immediate funds.”

The bills now go to the full House for consideration.

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The bills are House Bills 4609 and 4610.