INDIANAPOLIS -- Members of the Indiana House endorsed a measure sponsored by State Rep. Vern Tincher (D-Terre Haute) that would help the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) to provide better service to Hoosier citizens by allowing the department greater control over the State Disaster Relief Fund.
The measure, contained in Senate Bill 241, was passed through the House by a 93-0 vote.
The State Disaster Relief Fund was established by the General Assembly in 2007 to help cover the costs of damage caused by a natural disaster to public facilities or individual property.
Senate Bill 241 would expand the use of the fund, allowing IDHS to reimburse local governments for costs they incur when directed by the department to activate a local emergency response task force.
"This legislation allows state dollars to be sent back to a community when IDHS activates a local task force response to an emergency," Tincher said. "Through this provision, local governments will be able to recover lost funds -- allowing them to avoid the financial hardship that is often incurred when disaster strikes."
The bill also clarifies the use of other state funds that can be used in the event of a natural disaster.
Under the bill, public assistance grants may be used for the removal of debris in public facilities. In addition, individual assistance grants could be awarded to both homeowners and renters.
These provisions are meant to assist individuals who applied for a loan from the federal Small Business Administration but were turned down.
The bill will return to the Senate where members will consider changes made in the House.