Monday, May 07, 2007

Most states don't run homeland security money through Governor


The Texas House of Representatives will consider the Governor's homeland security bill HB 13 again today, and a key issue facing the body will be amendments to remove policing and intelligence gathering powers from the Governor's office and place them in the Texas Department of Public Safety. (See Grits' coverage of last week's floor debate.)

HB 13's sponsor David Swinford claimed having the Governor oversee these funds was required by federal statute, but as I reported over the weekend, that's not true. It turns out grant money would be given directly to counties from the US Attorney General and would not pass through the Governor at all!

Indeed, Rep. Rick Noriega's office compiled an analysis of where these functions have been placed in all 50 states that staff will distribute to House members. Bottom line, here's an overview of where various states have placed homeland security powers:
Governor: 12
Department of Public Safety: 15
Adjutant General: 5
Independent Agency: 11
Other: 6
So other states don't have HB 13's structure, and there is no federal statute or even pending legislation in Congress that would require such funds to pass through the Governor's office. Given Chairman Swinford's misreading of the proposed federal law and his misunderstanding with Congressman Culberson (who did not draft his federal legislation to mirror Swinford's bill), I hope he backs off these unnecessary and increasingly inexplicable demands.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, at Quorum Report's Daily Buzz, thanks to Harvey Kronberg for the shout out regarding Sunday's Grits post on HB 13 and federal funding. Here's what Harvey took from it:


Recently drafted congressional bill (HR 4437) includes no requirement that funding go through governor's office.

One of the biggest issues standing in the way of passage of HB13 is whether or not the Governor's Office should control operations and dollars rather than a non-political law enforcement agency such as DPS.

Durng the intense debate on HB13last Thursday, Chairman Swinford referred to federal funding commitments that must be routed through the Governor's office. From the front mike, he told Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) he would not give up the millions of dollars in federal funds promised by Congressman John Culberson (R-Houston) who sits on the Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee in D.C. He added that he could not control federal requirements for the distribtution of funds.

Over the weekend, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast pointed out that the federal legislation had just been drafted and included no requirement of gubernatorial control. Henson also questioned what stroke Culberson had to make such commitments now that he is a member of the minority party.

You can read the entire post here.
NUTHER UPDATE: At the Texas Observer blog, Jake Bernstein has more on this with a title I'm kicking myself for not having come up with myself: Don't Cry For Me, David Swinford. The House is late getting back from lunch as I update this (and they STILL, God help us, haven't finished the no-smoking bill), but sometime this afternoon perhaps we'll hear them hum a few bars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The amount of waste in this program is staggering. Agencies in the major cities/counties in Texas have received all manner of equipment. Some of it essential, much of it ego-trippers for emergency management staffers and all of it expensive and drowning in procurement red tape. So, lots of toys and not much in the way of actual exercises for local front-line police and firefighters.