Collins: More money for high-risk targets

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently introduced a bill that would direct more federal homeland security dollars to states and cities at higher risk for a terrorist attack while streamlining the process to make it more efficient.

The Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act provides a baseline funding for each state, while doubling the amount allocated to those high-risk states and cities.

"My bill guarantees that rural states will receive their fair share of federal homeland security dollars. Every state has vulnerabilities and each should be ensured a baseline level of homeland security funding to assure preparedness," said Collins, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in a press release.

"At the same time, we need to distribute more funds according to risk and vulnerability to terrorist attacks," she added. "This legislation achieves both of these goals. It addresses the homeland security needs of small and rural states, as well as states with major metropolitan centers."

The bill also requires states to distribute at least 80 percent of federal funds to local governments and first responders within 45 days of receipt. It creates a one-stop Homeland Security Information Clearinghouse that would provide states and local governments with information on grant programs and the use of those federal dollars.

The bill directs the Homeland Security Department to establish a national domestic preparedness training center to help states develop, maintain, and adopt certifiable training standards for first responders. It also gives state and local governments greater flexibility in transferring those funds among different activities, such as training, planning, and equipment.

The legislation, which was passed by the Senate last October as an amendment to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, has several co-sponsors including Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.).

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