State by State Security Update

By: and - December 19, 2001 12:00 am is tracking actions taken by state governments around the country since Sept. 11 to prepare for the possibility of a new terrorist attack. Following is an updated compilation of significant measures taken in the last three months.


Gov. Don Siegelman asked the heads of the Alabama National Guard and the state Emergency Management Agency to coordinate homeland security efforts. He’s also preparing a package of anti-terrorism measures. Tests run on overt anthrax threats and suspicious powders cost the state Health Department more than $110,000, according to an early estimate.


Hunters stranded in bush camps may have been among the last to learn about the Sept. 11 attacks, as many waited until the 13th for news and air transport back to civilization. Anthrax hoaxes taxed public health resources and a hole shot in the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline in an unrelated incident highlighted its vulnerability. Gov. Tony Knowles ordered an inventory of the state’s pharmaceutical resources and increased security along the pipeline a job Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said may become a long-term task for the National Guard. Knowles also appointed a task force to study the impact of terrorism on the state’s economy. Legislative leaders support Knowles’ $40 million anti-terror supplemental budget request and expect it to pass in January.


Border traffic, security at nuclear plants and water works and keeping up with a flood of anthrax calls kept state officials, troopers and guard units “on highest alert,” for much of the end of the year. The state anti-terror task force, a holdover of the Y2K era, became a centralized, 24-hour operation and the state health department opened a bioterror hotline. Gov. Jane Hull released emergency funds for police overtime and bioterror response equipment.


Gov. Mike Huckabee called agency directors together into a homeland security council. Metal detectors became fixtures at capitol entrances and senior officials finally scraped together enough money to hire four new police officers to guard the statehouse in 2002. The Department of Emergency Management committed to hold at least one meeting in each of the state’s 75 counties as part of its Communities Activated for Leadership Mobilization (CALM) program.


As the state explored ways to repair a $12 billion to $14 billion budget hole, police and health authorities proposed an initiative on a temporary quarter-cent sales tax hike to finance public safety measures. Lawmakers proposed a host of anti-terror legislation. Analysts say the tax would raise more than $1 billion per year. Tighter security and overtime cost the California Highway Patrol as much as $1 million per day while officers routinely worked 12-hour shifts. The CHP’s anti-terror outlay may reach $50 to $75 million this year, according to a top budget official. Meanwhile, lawmakers passed provisions for mental health counseling for those traumatized by the attacks. Other significant expenses include $5 million to boost local health departments’ readiness campaigns and a $1 million grant to New York’s victim compensation fund.


A letter addressed to Attorney General Ken Salazar containing white powder emptied a state office building for one afternoon in December, one of several hoaxes aimed at Colorado officials. Gov. Bill Owens has requested $1 million to establish a new anti-terror agency within the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Lawmakers will also consider a number of proposals to toughen Colorado’s anti-terrorism statutes. DPS Director Sue Mencer says key concerns include maintaining security at the capitol and other vulnerable buildings and ensuring an adequate hardware backup for the state’s digital infrastructure. Several state troopers have been called up for Guard duty and tourists were limited to one entrance with a metal detector. Public health resources were comparatively sheltered from anthrax scares since state policy requires the FBI to establish a credible criminal or terrorist threat before authorities test any suspicious substance.


The state again found itself sharing the national anti-terror spotlight when an elderly resident died of inhalation anthrax in November. As of early December, health officials ruled out anthrax in 113 additional cases while a handful remained under review. The anthrax scare drew attention to the state’s ancient public health laboratory, prompting calls for a new facility. Elsewhere, capitol police worked overtime into December and State Police sought to double their contingent of bomb-sniffing dogs. Gov. John Rowland also asked relevant agencies and local counterparts to assess their preparedness needs. And the Sept. 11 attacks took a personal toll: Dozens of Connecticut residents died and Rowland called members of every family.


After beefing up security patrols for a few days immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, state police reworked their patrolling routines in order to avoid costly staffing increases. Delaware has no commercial airport and Legislative Hall in Dover is one of the quietist buildings in the state when the legislature is not in session, so the state’s costs were limited to lab overtime in responding to white powder calls. The state set up a toll-free number for its bioterrorism information hotline in November. Emergency management director Sean Mulhern will do double duty as the state’s anti-terrorism coordinator.


Terrorists-in-training called Florida home, obtained state-issued identification and learned to fly there in the months leading up to Sept. 11. The anthrax scare also began in Florida, where all mail addressed to state buildings is rerouted to an off-site inspection facility before delivery. After Sept. 11, Capitol police installed metal detectors and Gov. Jeb Bush worked under the protection of an armed guard. Looking for money to cover new security costs under the shadow of a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, Bush converted $6.3 million in raises for the state’s top-paid employees into funding for Guard presence at seaports. On the legislative side, lawmakers established special committees to consider anti-terror legislation. Early results include the establishment of regional anti-terror task forces, expanded police wiretapping authority, a $13 million appropriation for police training, medical stockpiling and security assessments and the use of aviation fuel tax revenues to enhance airport security. Bush also signed bills regulating crop duster airplanes and closing public records related to terrorism investigations. Meanwhile, State Police hustled to have a statewide anti-terrorism database ready by mid-December.


Lessons learned from the bomb scare at the1996 Summer Olympics served the state well by establishing strong communication links among emergency, law enforcement, safety and health officials. At the end of October, Gov. Roy Barnes created a new state anti-terrorism intelligence center, where officials gathered, assessed and shared information of potential threats with federal, state and local authorities.


The state’s tourism-driven economy, heavily reliant on air travel, suffered terribly after the Sept. 11 attacks, taking an estimated $1 billion hit. Unemployment figures showed a 200 percent increase in benefits claims from last year for the last two weeks of September. That situation prompted legislation granting Gov. Ben Cayetano emergency economic powers to last through April 2002. Lawmakers also extended unemployment benefits, approved temporary health insurance for displaced workers and made a $5 million appropriation for airport security during a special session. Anthrax scares continued late into the year, with officials investigating a powder-bearing letter sent to Cayetano in November.


Anthrax scares cost the state an estimated $30,000, officials said in December. The capitol grounds were under constant surveillance and Gov. Dirk Kempthorne closed adjacent streets indefinitely. Metal poles replaced ugly concrete barriers at vehicle entrances in November. Visitors enter the capitol through a single door outfitted with a new $40,000 security system and pick up an ID badge. Kempthorne implemented several other security precautions at state buildings, especially in Boise, straining police resources throughout the state and prompting questions about cost effectiveness.


Legislation to expand the ability of state and local investigators to wiretap suspected terrorists and stiffen penalties for terrorist acts to include the execution awaited Gov. George Ryan’s signature in December. And lawmakers searched for ways to pay for new security proposals. Officials said Illinois was ahead of the game on Sept. 11, thanks to a terror task force launched in 2000 that “began work in earnest last spring.” Nonetheless, Ryan made tall budget requests of Washington, including $65 million to develop a public safety radio link among state and local officials. Some lawmakers backed the idea of a special lottery card to cover anti-terror expenses such as police overtime and the development of a state pharmaceutical stockpile.


Indiana lawmakers acted to prepare the state for terrorist acts, especially a biological attack, long before Sept. 11. The new statute directed health and emergency officials to bolster the state’s analytical and response capabilities beginning July 1. Efforts to address terrorism began in 1997 and state police and health officials had bioterrorism plans in working or final form for two years. One month after the attacks, Gov. Frank O’Bannon created the Indiana Counter-Terrorism Task Force. Director Clifford Ong, whose salary is drawn from federal drug interdiction funds, said the state’s readiness for an attack involving explosives or hazardous materials is strong. But he said much still needed to be done, with a statewide communications system a “highly expensive” top priority. O’Bannon also merged the capitol and state police forces in November, expanding the number of officers available to secure the statehouse.


A Des Moines Register survey found Iowa had spent $2.6 million on homeland security through the beginning of December, much of which were National Guard expenses the state expected to recoup from the federal government. Emergency managers identified 12,000 potential targets within the state, but homeland security adviser Ellen Gordon said the state could only secure the 600 most vulnerable and important sites. Capitol security became a priority after being underfunded for years; lawmakers approved more than $700,00 in security upgrades including metal detectors at remaining open entrances, an electronic lock and key-card system and video surveillance.


State officials reviewed their emergency plan after the Sept. 11 attacks and found it already contained key elements of the Bush administration’s homeland security proposals. Capitol officials erected concrete barriers around the building to keep vehicles from parking near entrances, replacing wooden barricades installed the weekend before the attacks. Lawmakers began reviewing the state’s disaster plan, security at vulnerable facilities including the capitol and the state’s readiness for bioterrorism in September.


The state enacted new anti-terror criminal definitions and penalties in the spring. Security initiatives in the Bluegrass State after Sept. 11 include tighter surveillance of trucks carrying hazardous materials, centralized collection of suspicious mail, the presence of armed guards at capitol entrances and a call to broaden school crisis plans to address terrorism. Officials said costs for bioterror and airport security measures would approach $5 million in the first year after the attacks, while upgrades to the state’s radio network would take another $60 million. In December, the Transportation Cabinet imposed a 30-day waiting period and other precautionary measures on foreign applicants for driver’s licenses. But the state backed away from a proposal to limit access to certain public records. Kentucky health officials performed over 200 anthrax tests on suspicious substances, all of which turned up negative.


Lawmakers approved nearly $4 million to cover police overtime and new hires in in November and gave preliminary support to $1 million for activated National Guard troops and special training for firefighters in December. Among the few states with a comparatively strong economy prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, Louisiana upgraded security at prominent targets the capitol, chemical, nuclear and oil processing plants and military bases with relatively little impact on state coffers. Gov. Mike Foster even solicited private donations for a fund to buy a new fire truck, “The Spirit of Louisiana” for New York City. But state officials weren’t breathing easy. The state’s vital tourism industry already sustained a big hit. “We’re worried about next year,” Foster spokeswoman Marsanne Golsby said. Meanwhile, state public health officials conducted nearly 850 tests on suspicious substances through the first week of December without a single positive result.


The Maine Emergency Management Agency estimated the state’s security and preparedness measures would cost $31 million the first year and another $20 million per year for the foreseeable future. Two of the biggest short-term requests came from the National Guard ( million) and the Department of Public Health ( million). Hazmat equipment and personnel upgrades at MEMA will run another $4 million. Adjutant Gen. Joe Tinkham, preparing to press Washington for $25 million in aid, likened the last three months of the year to life “between the covers of a Tom Clancy novel.” Gov. Angus King began to question the benefits of all-out security after the federal government in November asked states to help safeguard nuclear power plants from attack. Maine’s plant is dormant, but the facility still stores radioactive spent fuel rods.


Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, gearing up for her early lead in the 2002 governor’s race, became the face of Maryland’s anti-terror endeavors in November, announcing a $400,000 grant to begin work on a wireless, single-frequency communications link for emergency responders. Townsend also met with BWI airport officials and committed state officers to help with baggage checks. The meter was already running. Shortly after announcing a $205 million hole in the state’s budget in October, Gov. Parris Glendening announced Maryland had incurred $6 million in “unanticipated costs” related to the Sept. 11 attacks. State figures suggested security measures at airports and state buildings, intensified hazmat carrier inspections and the costs of responding to acts and threats of bioterrorism would run as high as $24 million by the end of the fiscal year.


Boston’s Logan Airport was the takeoff point for the jets that leveled the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a fact which led to investigations into the airport’s management and security procedures. A task force stopped short of laying blame on the state Port Authority, but recommended ending its history of patronage hiring. Meanwhile, hazardous materials officials met to review the state’s readiness and requested federal funds to help train fire departments to respond to a biological attack. State lawmakers demonstrated their willingness to bankroll security in October. In the midst of forging a long overdue budget, lawmakers passed a $26 million supplemental anti-terrorism package. The new funds will train and pay 150 new state troopers for one year, provide overtime pay for current troopers, buy new cruisers and special equipment, and beef up security at the state capitol. In addition to dramatic increases in security at Logan, officials have also kept a close eye on reservoirs, the Plymouth nuclear plant and bridges to Cape Cod.


In December, officials said the state was spending more than $8,000 per day to supplement federal efforts to guard the state’s ports and international crossings and keep traffic moving. They also reported spending $2.7 million on preparations to better handle acts of bioterrorism. Lawmakers set penalties for acts of biological or chemical terrorism in October and the state Department of Environmental Quality asked environmental response chief Alan Howard to evaluate security preparations at water filtration facilities, landfills and chemical and power plants throughout the state.


Minnesota continued work on CriMNet, its unified criminal justice database. The project will likely take years to complete, despite the new anti-terror incentive. Officials said Minnesota had a leg up on terrorism in 2001. Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver, the state’s de facto homeland security czar, said Minnesota took advantage of federal anti-terror grants totalling $3.9 million over the last three years. Dealing with the real thing meant few new public safety costs for the state, with local law enforcement contributing heavily to tighter security details. Weaver, Gov. Jesse Ventura and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm asked lawmakers to expand the health department’s emergency authority, tighten criminal penalties for terrorist acts and approve a range of anti-terror investigation measures.


Gov. Ronnie Musgrove praised the Mississippi National Guard’s strong recruiting efforts in November. Earlier that month, Adjutant General James H. Lipscomb told lawmakers that the Guard would need more money if it were to maintain its key role in tightened security measures into the new year. The Musgrove administration spent $34,000 installing metal detectors in the capitol and another major state office building. Mississippi had few anthrax scares requiring tests but officials say the problem taxed public health resources nonetheless.


Gov. Bob Holden may have been the first in the country to appoint a cabinet-level anti-terror czar based on the Tom Ridge blueprint. At the capitol, visitors got used to guards and metal detectors and employees donned ID badges. Noting that the state’s only public health laboratory sits in flood-prone lowlands on the banks of the Missouri River, Republican lawmakers chided the Democratic Holden to restore $25 million once earmarked to build a new lab on drier ground. Holden redirected the money to help plug holes in the state’s budget, saying a new lab will be a priority once more funding is available. Health officials began seeking new staff to help with the anticipated rise in anthrax testing even before the announcement that investigators had confirmed the presence of spores at a postal facility in Kansas City in early November.


Montana considered itself well-prepared for terrorist threats before Sept. 11. Since 1999, the state has received $400,000 or more a year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve coordination among health workers, buy lab equipment and increase awareness of bioterrorism. Plans for the future didn’t stop there. Officials said a new statewide radio system, designed to streamline communications among emergency teams in the event of an attack or major catastrophe, would cost as much as $150 million to set up and operate. Gov. Judy Martz set up a homeland security task force in October and limited vehicle access to the capitol and asked visitors to identify themselves in November.


Gov. Mike Johanns asked police, emergency officials and the National Guard to remain on a high state of alert after a third general warning issued by national homeland security director Tom Ridge in December. Earlier in the year, officials set up a bioterrorism surveillance coordinator position to help prepare the state’s public health system. Nebraska increased security at the state’s nuclear power plants in November after the Justice Department warned about possible attacks, but stopped short of deploying National Guard troops to the plants.


Nevada was among thirteen states to commit Guard troops to the security detail at the upcoming Olympic Games in neighboring Utah. Despite the presence of the Hoover Dam and several military bases, Nevada officials believe their state is low on the terrorists’ hit list. Nevertheless, the state’s emergency operation center has been on 24-7 activation since Sept. 11, the Department of Public Health responded to dozens of anthrax scares and local governments worked overtime to protect vital interests, such as power plants, water facilities and government buildings. In November, Gov. Kenny Guinn attributed a $25 million first-quarter tax revenue dip to the attacks.

New Hampshire

A task force appointed by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen to study the state’s emergency response system found it ready to handle most disaster situations. But the November report also pointed to weaknesses, including a low hospital surge capacity, an insufficient communication system and the absence of a hazardous materials team in the state’s northern counties. Shaheen asked the federal government to provide funding for health training and disease tracking in October. The state increased security at ports, border crossings, propane storage facilitiesm hazardous waste areas and the Seabrook nuclear power plant.

New Jersey

Still reeling from the loss of hundreds of New Jersey residents in the Sept. 11 attacks, officials learned in October that letters carrying deadly anthrax spores were mailed to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle from a post office near Trenton. Within a month, state public health analysts tested more than 2,000 suspicious substances. The outgoing administration of Acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco expected $200 million from the federal government to help pay for medical and mental health care and other recovery expenses after the attacks. Gov.-elect Jim McGreevey said he’d lobby for another $700 million in federal aid and put more power in the hands of state emergency officials in order to help the state prepare for future acts of terrorism. Meanwhile, lawmakers grilled motor vehicles officials for declining to enforce a regulation passed after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that revokes foreigners’ state-issued driver’s licenses once their visas expire. Authorities in Maine said that two of the hijackers who passed through Portland en route to Boston and the assault on New York carried New Jersey licenses.

New Mexico

University of New Mexico administrators reprimanded history professor Richard Berthold for telling his freshman Western Civilization class that “anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote” on the morning of the attacks. Berthold has called his remarks stupid and callous, but some lawmakers pressed for his ouster. Gov. Gary Johnson tightened security across the state, especially around nuclear sites such as the Sandia and Los Alamos National laboratories. Health secretary Alex Valdez said the state is prepared to deal with any bioterrorism concerns, having boosted its capacity in recent years with grant money from the CDC.

New York

The attacks on Sept. 11 that felled the twin towers of Manhattan’s World Trade Center, killed thousands of people and left an estimated $108 billion black hole in the state’s economy also prompted immediate unity and goodwill, thanks in part to strong leadership from top city and state officials. Less than a week after the attack, Gov. George Pataki signed a package of anti-terror legislation that defined terrorism and set penalties for a range of terrorist acts. But the gravity of the state’s loss of life and the damage done to its economy failed to prevent its recovery needs from becoming a political issue. Pataki’s initial $54 billion request for recovery aid stumbled upon other federal priorities and questions about the relevance of several items Pataki wanted to use the money to address. His handling of the request opened the door to criticism from challengers to his unofficial re-election campaign and the transfer of city power from outgoing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to political newcomer Michael Bloomberg further shook the governor’s support base. The state anticipated an initial $11.3 billion installment from the federal government by the end of the year and held on to promises of more to come from Congress and the administration. It also projected $9 billion to $10 billion in lost state revenue as a direct result of the attacks and reported a preliminary $100 million in up-front response expenses. State police counted their overtime costs at $2 million and running through the end of October and considered rehiring retired troopers to help even out the workload. “We’re still in the fact finding mode in our state about what we’re going to do, not only with the economy, but with the psyche of our residents,” state Rep. Paul Tokasz told a national gathering of state lawmakers in December.

North Carolina

Gov. Mike Easley signed legislation in November setting penalties for acts of bioterrorism including the production of biological agents for use as weapons. Another bill established a registry of biological and chemical materials used for research. Easley also approved $1.9 million for the Division of Emergency Management and authorized the use of up to $30 million from the state’s rainy day fund to improve emergency response and preparedness efforts. National Guard troops remained on alert and helped secure the state’s 12 commercial airports. In addition, the Highway Patrol increased its presence at government buildings and nuclear power plants.

North Dakota

Gov. John Hoeven and homeland security coordinator Doug Friez hosted a conference of 350 state and local officials in late November to provide information about the state’s emergency readiness and response efforts. Health officials also acted to beef up the state’s infectious disease reporting system.


Agriculture officials worked with farmers to keep constant vigil over the state’s food supply and public health analysts examined more than 1,400 items suspected of anthrax contamination in October and November without a single positive result. Gov. Bob Taft met with President Bush at the end of October to request more federal funding for public health and other anti-terrorism measures. The State Building Security Review Committee explored visitor control methods such as central entrances and ID badges, upgraded camera equipment and X-ray machines. Legislators proposed bills to strengthen penalties for acts of terrorism and individuals who intentionally induce public panic.


Both Gov. Frank Keating and legislative leaders commissioned task forces to study the state’s preparedness needs. Many felt the state was in good shape as a result of its response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but agency coordination, cyber- and bioterror readiness and public safety provisions emerged as top issues. Through the first week of December, Oklahoma analysts tested 818 suspected anthrax specimens. All tests turned up negative. In September, Keating deployed National Guard troops to the perimeter of the state’s major airport instead of posting them inside and on airport roofs, as most governors did.


Gov. John Kitzhaber proposed the elevation of Oregon Emergency Management to a cabinet-level agency responsible for organizing the state’s efforts to combat terrorism. Kitzhaber also created a new Oregon State Police unit — the Office of Public Safety and Security — to coordinate the handling of intelligence. House Speaker Mark Simmons led a legislative task force to make recommendations for new anti-terror legislation. In late October, state and local health authorities told lawmakers they weren’t ready to meet challenges posed by bioterrorism.


In December, Gov. Mark Schweiker honored the search and rescue squad that responded to the crash of the hijacked plane forced down in the Allegheny Mountains Sept. 11. Pennsylvania drew unwelcome attention after the attacks when the state Department of Transportation appeared to be a fertile bed for licenses illegally obtained by Middle Eastern men. Schweiker created an all-Republican security task force shortly after taking over as governor for Tom Ridge, whom President Bush tapped to be the country’s first Director of Homeland Security in October. The panel’s recommendations included the establishment of a homeland security council, continued work on the state’s radio network and improvements in programs designed to fight biological threats. House Republicans secured passage of several anti-terror measures, including expanded wiretapping authority, criminal penalties for terrorist acts, new driver’s license safeguards and highway security provisions.

Rhode Island

Capitol police hustled to beef up security at the statehouse before lawmakers returned to start the 2002 session, building upon $300,000 in recommendations made by a legislative panel convened before Sept. 11. Among their priorities: use of a metal detector at capitol entrances, access cards for employees and additional security staff. Health officials conducted over 300 anthrax tests through mid-December; all substances came up clean. Rhode Island also stands to receive a $1.3 million training and equipment grant from the Justice Department to implement its three-year domestic security plan.

South Carolina

Top lawmakers and officials expressed doubts about the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act offered by the CDC and prominent schools of public health, but Gov. Jim Hodges’ security team promised to draft their own version for the 2002 session. Ongoing budget problems threatened to close more than a third of the state’s National Guard armories. Hodges traveled to Washington in early November to meet with Tom Ridge and seek federal money to help cover security costs. The governor and homeland security advisor Gen. Steve Siegfried also set up an educational Web site about anthrax. State Bureau of Protective Services officers, charged with guarding the State House complex, the Governor’s Mansion and other buildings, worked up to 70 hours a week without overtime pay.

South Dakota

The state’s emergency management division submitted a $60 million preparedness needs request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gov. Bill Janklow sent 3,500 copies of a bioterror resource guide to South Dakota communities and addressed the legislature on bioterror needs and activities. Testing of suspicious substances, once conducted only at the State Health Lab in Pierre, can now be done at one of nine labs at the state’s larger hospitals.


The state began work on an estimated $8 million in security measures and Gov. Don Sundquist indicated he’d ask for another $8 million and tougher anti-terrorism legislation when legislators return for the 2002 session. Among the big ticket items: $5.3 million to train and pay 50 new state troopers by the end of June. Sundquist said the state would continue to build on bioterror preparations it began with CDC help long before the Sept. 11 attacks. Capitol police surrounded the complex with concrete barricades and authorities added security personnel including armed Guard troops – and metal detectors in November.


Gov. Rick Perry appointed a 21-member task force to identify the state’s anti-terror gaps and draft recommendations. Like other border state governors, Perry stepped up conversations with Mexican officials about security and commercial concerns. The state gauged its needs at $430 million in an October report to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that one official called a first shot estimate. The Department of Health requested $12.1 million over two years to add staff, upgrade equipment and improve training, all to counter bioterrorism; lawmakers responded with a $6 million allocation in December. Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander proposed the creation of ten regional anti-terror response teams, an administrative approach similar to one implemented in Florida and Maryland. The plan would cost $19 million. Perry discouraged plans by a Texas company to dispose of materials contaminated with anthrax spores.


With the Winter Olympic games coming to Utah in February, the state had worked on anti-terrorism safety and security measures for years. Nevertheless, the Sept. 11 attacks served to heighten the awareness of the officials charged with making sure thousands of elite athletes from around the world will be safe during the Games. It is expected that as many as 3,750 soldiers including National Guard troops from 13 other states will join Olympic security forces, aiding them with everything from body searches to bomb disposals. In October, Gov. Mike Leavitt elevated the mission of the state’s Division of Comprehensive Management, asking it to spearhead homeland defense measures and ensure the safety of bridges, freeways, dams, government buildings and power plants.


Gov. Howard Dean told reporters at a December press conference in Washington, D.C., that one public health lab and two hazardous materials teams were insufficient for Vermont’s needs. Federal regulators reported in December that Vermont Yankee, the state’s nuclear power plant, received the lowest marks in the nation during an August terrorism drill. The state’s terrorism task force said the state would need $19 million over the next several months to prepare for the possibility of future attacks.


Virginia knows terrorism first-hand. The Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon occurred on Virginia soil, drawing in state health and security officials to aid in the response and in October, Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore was rushed out of a congressional anti-terrorism hearing after anthrax was discovered in the office of Sen. Tom Daschle. Given its proximity to Washington, D.C., Virginia officials and personnel would likely be among the first on the scene of any future attacks on the federal government. To prepare for the worst, Virginia health specialists routinely consulted with officials in the District of Columbia and Maryland, poring over hospital emergency room logs in search of disease patterns. Lawmakers endorsed a plan to install metal detectors and protective doors at the capitol and hire an additional 18 officers. In December, the outgoing Gilmore administration outlined $37.2 million in anti-terror measures, much of which would go to prepare against acts of bioterrorism. And the Department of Motor Vehicles tightened its regulations governing driver’s license applications.


Washington’s abundance of navigable water was problematic after Sept. 11. All around Puget Sound, officials stepped up monitoring of dams and filtration plants, and worried about the possibility of a poisoned water supply. Gov. Gary Locke asked both Congress and the Bush administration to commit National Guard units to border security assignments. Locke also proposed legislation making terrorism a felony punishable by the death penalty under state law.

West Virginia

Police overtime alone has cost $3 million and additional security measures involving Guardsmen and state employees at sensitive facilities another $24.5 million, according to figures submitted to the National Governors Association. The state relied heavily on state police to guard entrances to the capitol as lawmakers debated an $800,000 appropriation to install x-ray machines and metal detectors and add new capitol police. Gov. Bob Wise said he hoped that in Tom Ridge the governors could count on one of their own to help them with their efforts. Wise also called upon West Virginians to take the neighborhood watch approach in volunteer efforts to keep the state safe from terrorism.


The state scrapped a $1.7 million plan to build a security fence around the capitol grounds, citing a low payoff. Public health officials said Milwaukee and Madison had the personnel and equipment in place needed to respond to biological attacks but worried that rural areas were unprepared to deal with any kind of terrorist attack. By December, the State Hygiene Lab tested about 600 substances for anthrax and state police kept a tight watch on hazardous materials carriers. Gov. Scott McCallum asked the congressional delegation to back the provision of a full-time Guard unit trained to respond to attacks using weapons of mass destruction.


State officials discussed whether to permanently restrict access to a handful of government buildings and move some agencies, such as the state police, to more secure locations. Gov. Jim Geringer asked Attorney General Hoke MacMillan to chair the state’s new Counter Terrorism Council in October. The panel will evaluate the state’s preparedness for a terrorist attack. “We are not going to be able to go back to pre-Sept. 11 security,” Geringer said. “It has permanently changed.”

sources: state governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, news sources, Stateline.orgĀ 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.