Illinois Senators Propose Changes in Disaster Declaration Process

March 30, 2015

U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin of Illinois are renewing their call for an update of the methods the government uses to determine disaster assistance.

The Republican and the Democrat introduced Thursday what they call the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act. The senators say the current system discriminates against smaller communities in states with large population centers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied an Illinois request for federal aid after the devastating tornadoes of November 2013.

The senators say their proposed legislation would benefit smaller communities like Washington, Illinois, which are unfairly hurt by outdated methodology. The legislation is retroactive to 2012 which would mean FEMA could pick up the tab for repairs made in Washington through $45 million in state grants.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier said the bill is timely with this week’s tornadoes in Oklahoma.

“Maybe it’ll get some legs again and maybe we can fix this problem so different communities don’t have to deal with this,” he told the (Peoria) Journal Star.

The measure has been introduced twice previously without success, but Manier gave lawmakers credit for trying again.

“It would have been real easy to say that, well, the state came in and bailed us out and people are moving on with recovery,” Manier said.

The legislation also backed by Illinois U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, Cheri Bustos, John Shimkus, Mike Bost and Adam Kinzinger.

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