Effective immediately, all state homeland security planning and response in Virginia will fall under the leadership of the Secretary of Public Safety. While the new law signed by Governor McAuliffe may not be noticed by many residents, lawmakers say it will make a huge difference when disaster strikes.
Bill sponsor Delegate Scott Lingamfelter says prior to the new law, homeland security and emergency management functions were disjointed and split between the Secretary of Public Safety, the Secretary for Veterans Affairs, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. This law, he says, establishes more efficient "simultaneous and sequential planning" for disasters and terrorism. This change had bipartisan support, and Lingamfelter says he believes lawmakers will stand behind the next phase of streamlining services.
Lingamfelter says too many government agencies and military establishments exist in—or have close proximity to—Virginia to not have seamless, coordinated planning of security strategy on all levels of government. He says he doesn't believe this effort was being mismanaged, but there's always room for improvement.