Hays Urges Congress to Pass a Fair FEMA Disaster Aid Formula

State Representative Chad Hays this week sent a message to Washington DC: The federal system for approving disaster relief funds is unfair to Illinois and must be changed.

Hays (R-Catlin) and other state lawmakers who saw their local communities devastated by November tornados have been working with Illinois’ Congressional delegation to enact a new, fair formula for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to award financial assistance to communities hit by a natural disaster. This week, Rep. Hays and several of his House Republican colleagues filed legislation urging Congress and the U.S. Senate to pass the newly introduced Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act.

“For families in Gifford and other devastated communities to be told that their town doesn’t qualify for funding to help repair and rebuild their infrastructure, schools and other public buildings was literally adding insult to injury. The problem is the current formula FEMA uses to determine eligibility, which will disqualify communities in Illinois every time unless the tornado hits downtown Chicago, the largest population base,” Rep. Hays said. “We have worked with our Congressional delegation on a plan that will make the formula more fair. Now, we need the House and Senate in Washington to pass it.”

The Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act of 2014 requires the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to amend the rules concerning the factors FEMA considers when evaluating a governor's request for a major disaster declaration. The change will allow for assistance to be awarded to Illinois’ smaller, rural communities when disaster strikes. Rep. Hays is a chief co-sponsor of Illinois House Resolution 922 which asks the U. S. Congress to promptly pass the new Act.

“After our communities were denied federal aid for public repairs again this month, Governor Quinn put together a $45 million state aid package to help, and that was the right thing to do in the interim. Now, it’s time for Congress to fix the problem,” Hays said.

Click "Here" to listen to Representative Hays discuss the issue.

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