The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on Tuesday unanimously recommended the reconfirmation of Major General Jessica Wright as the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and passed a bill sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) to require the PEMA Director to be confirmed by a majority of the members of the Senate.
Baker, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said that Senate Bill 637 is important to state security and public safety because the PEMA’s director is responsible for coordinating the state’s response to natural and manmade disasters, as well terrorist attacks and other threats.
She said that the Secretaries of similar sized agencies, Aging and Banking, both require Senate confirmation. Hundreds of nominees for various licensure boards, health facilities, and state universities must be confirmed. Yet the PEMA Director, who plays such a critical role in the state’s preparedness, still does not require confirmation under Pennsylvania’s current process.
“Requiring Senate confirmation of the PEMA Director will be a positive step toward improving agency accountability and ensuring that there is strong communication and coordination in responding to emergencies,” Baker said.
She noted that during recent Senate and House hearings to review the response to the storm of February 13-15, senators identified significant communication gaps between state and local agencies and between state agencies and the Governor’s office during the emergency.
“Citizens expect state and local emergency response to be provided in a timely, expedient, and responsible manner. This enhanced level of scrutiny is necessary and just one of several steps that we are considering to better ensure a uniform and consistent system of emergency management in Pennsylvania.”
Baker said the committee also sent the reconfirmation of General Wright to the full Senate for approval. She expressed her support for the General, who commands the Commonwealth’s National Guard, and vowed to work with her to support Pennsylvania’s dedicated military personnel at home and abroad.
Contact: Carol Maravic