Summary: S.1691 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (05/16/2000)

Disaster Mitigation Act of 1999 - Title I: Predisaster Hazard Mitigation - Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Act) to authorize the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a program of technical and financial assistance to States and local governments to implement predisaster hazard mitigation activities to reduce injuries and loss of life and property damage and destruction, including damage to critical infrastructures and facilities. Authorizes the Director to provide financial assistance from the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund (established under this Act) to each State and local government that has identified all natural disaster hazards in its jurisdiction and has demonstrated its ability to form effective public-private disaster hazard mitigation partnerships, to be used principally to implement the predisaster hazard mitigation measures contained in proposals approved by the Director. Authorizes such assistance to be used to: (1) support effective public-private partnerships; (2) ensure that new development and construction is disaster resistant; or (3) improve the assessment of a community's natural hazards vulnerabilities or establish a community's mitigation priorities.

Authorizes the Director to establish the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund.

(Sec. 103) Directs the President to designate as a natural disaster mitigation zone each area in which commonly recurring natural hazards (floods, hurricanes and severe winds, seismic events) create a substantial likelihood of disasters that may require assistance under the Act. Requires flood zones identified under the national flood insurance program that are also within a wind zone identified by the American Society of Civil Engineers that has commonly recurring winds of over 90 miles per hour to be so designated as such zones.

Requires the President to direct all appropriate Federal agencies that gather information relating to natural resources and natural and technological hazards to integrate, or develop and maintain, comprehensive all-hazard maps using geographic information systems technology. Requires the President to assign to the Director the primary responsibility for identifying disaster mitigation policies and practices for implementation in natural disaster mitigation zones. Requires Federal buildings in such zones to be designed and constructed in accordance with such policies and practices, voluntary minimum model building codes, consensus standards, test methods, and specifications identified by the Director. Authorizes the President to provide certain incentives to encourage owners of buildings in such zones to implement such policies.

(Sec. 104) Directs the President to establish an interagency task force to coordinate the implementation of predisaster hazard mitigation programs administered by the Federal Government.

Title II: Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation Assistance - Amends the Act to direct the President to promulgate regulations under which States, communities, and other disaster assistance applicants are required to protect property through adequate levels of insurance or self-insurance.

(Sec. 202) Directs the President to: (1) establish management cost rates for disaster preparedness and mitigation assistance grantees and subgrantees; (2) review such rates periodically; and (3) promulgate regulations to define costs to be included in such management costs.

(Sec. 203)Revises provisions that authorize the President to make contributions for repair, restoration, reconstruction, or replacement of public or private nonprofit facilities damaged or destroyed by major disasters to permit such contributions to private facilities only if: (1) the facility provides critical infrastructure in the event of a major disaster; (2) the facility owner or operator has applied for a disaster loan under the Small Business Act and has been determined ineligible for such loan; or (3) the owner or operator has obtained such a loan in the maximum amount for which the Small Business Administration determines the facility is eligible. Requires the President to notify specified congressional committees before making any contribution greater than $20 million.

Limits the Federal share of assistance provided to 75 percent of repair, restoration, reconstruction, or replacement costs, with an authorized Federal share reduction for a facility: (1) that has previously been damaged on more than one occasion by the same type of event; and (2) that has not implemented mitigation measures to address the hazard that caused the damage.

Reduces in-lieu contributions (in cases where the public interest is not served by a facility's repair, restoration, reconstruction, or replacement) to governments or owners or operators of private nonprofit facilities to 75 percent (currently, up to 90 percent) of the Federal share of the cost of repairing, restoring, reconstructing, or replacing a facility and management costs. Provides funding limits. Provides for the determination of eligible costs and the modification of such costs. Requires the President, acting through the Director, to establish an expert panel for developing: (1) procedures for estimating the cost of repairing, restoring, reconstructing, or replacing a facility consistent with industry practices; and (2) certain ceiling and floor percentages with respect to estimated costs. Requires the President to promulgate regulations to establish such procedures and percentages. Directs the panel to report biennially to Congress on the appropriateness of such procedures.

(Sec. 204) Requires State, local, or tribal governments, as a condition of receipt of a disaster loan or grant under the Act, to submit to the Director for approval a mitigation plan that outlines processes for identifying the natural hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities of the area under government jurisdiction. Authorizes Federal contributions described under Section 203 of this Act to be used to fund such plans, with limitations.

Revises provisions of the Act concerning standards for repair and construction financed with disaster loans or grants. Permits the President to require safe land use and construction practices.

(Sec. 205) Authorizes a State to apply to the President for delegation of the authority to administer the hazard mitigation grant program under the Act.

(Sec. 206) Directs the National Academy of Sciences to study and report to Congress on an estimate of the reduction in Federal assistance that has resulted and is likely to result from the enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 207) Authorizes the President to provide assistance to State and local governments (currently, only States) for the mitigation, management, and control of any fire (currently, fire suppression) on public or private forest land or grassland with urban interface (currently, on such forest land or grassland) which threatens destruction that would constitute a major disaster.

(Sec. 208) Requires the President to provide an opportunity for public comment before adopting any new or modified policy governing implementation of the FEMA-administered major disaster public assistance program that could result in a significant reduction of assistance under the program. Requires consultation with program grantees.

(Sec. 209) Prohibits major disaster community loans from exceeding $5 million. Prohibits further assistance to a community that is in arrears on payments under a previous loan.

Title III: Miscellaneous - Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to make FEMA employees and employees of State or local emergency management or civil defense agencies who perform official duties relating to a major disaster that are determined to be hazardous duties eligible for public safety officers' death benefits.

(Sec. 304) Prohibits the initiation of an administrative action to recover any payment made to a State or local government for emergency or disaster assistance under the Act after three years from the date of transmission of the final expenditure report for such emergency or disaster. Provides a rebuttable assumption, in any dispute arising after such three-year deadline, that adequate records were maintained identifying the source and application of such funds.