Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 44. Military and Emergency Laws
Chapter 3.2. Emergency Services and Disaster Law

§ 44-146.17. Powers and duties of Governor.

A. The Governor shall be Director of Emergency Management. He shall take such action from time to time as is necessary for the adequate promotion and coordination of state and local emergency services activities relating to the safety and welfare of the Commonwealth in time of disasters.

The Governor shall have, in addition to his powers hereinafter or elsewhere prescribed by law, the following powers and duties:

(1) To proclaim and publish such rules and regulations and to issue such orders as may, in his judgment, be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this chapter including, but not limited to such measures as are in his judgment required to control, restrict, allocate or regulate the use, sale, production and distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, services and resources under any state or federal emergency services programs.

He may adopt and implement the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan, which provides for state-level emergency operations in response to any type of disaster or large-scale emergency affecting Virginia and that provides the needed framework within which more detailed emergency plans and procedures can be developed and maintained by state agencies, local governments and other organizations.

He may direct and compel evacuation of all or part of the populace from any stricken or threatened area if this action is deemed necessary for the preservation of life, implement emergency mitigation, preparedness, response or recovery actions; prescribe routes, modes of transportation and destination in connection with evacuation; and control ingress and egress at an emergency area, including the movement of persons within the area and the occupancy of premises therein.

Executive orders, to include those declaring a state of emergency and directing evacuation, shall have the force and effect of law and the violation thereof shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor in every case where the executive order declares that its violation shall have such force and effect.

Such executive orders declaring a state of emergency may address exceptional circumstances that exist relating to an order of quarantine or an order of isolation concerning a communicable disease of public health threat that is issued by the State Health Commissioner for an affected area of the Commonwealth pursuant to Article 3.02 (§ 32.1-48.05 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 32.1.

No rule, regulation, or order issued under this section shall have any effect beyond 45 days after the date of issuance. Unless the General Assembly takes action on the rule, regulation, or order within the 45 days during which the rule, regulation, or order is effective, the Governor shall thereafter be prohibited from issuing the same or a similar rule, regulation, or order relating to the same emergency;

(2) To appoint a State Coordinator of Emergency Management and authorize the appointment or employment of other personnel as is necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter, and to remove, in his discretion, any and all persons serving hereunder;

(3) To procure supplies and equipment, to institute training and public information programs relative to emergency management and to take other preparatory steps including the partial or full mobilization of emergency management organizations in advance of actual disaster, to insure the furnishing of adequately trained and equipped forces in time of need;

(4) To make such studies and surveys of industries, resources, and facilities in the Commonwealth as may be necessary to ascertain the capabilities of the Commonwealth and to plan for the most efficient emergency use thereof;

(5) On behalf of the Commonwealth to enter into mutual aid arrangements with other states and to coordinate mutual aid plans between political subdivisions of the Commonwealth. After a state of emergency is declared in another state and the Governor receives a written request for assistance from the executive authority of that state, the Governor may authorize the use in the other state of personnel, equipment, supplies, and materials of the Commonwealth, or of a political subdivision, with the consent of the chief executive officer or governing body of the political subdivision;

(6) To delegate any administrative authority vested in him under this chapter, and to provide for the further delegation of any such authority, as needed;

(7) Whenever, in the opinion of the Governor, the safety and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth require the exercise of emergency measures due to a threatened or actual disaster, to declare a state of emergency to exist;

(8) To request a major disaster declaration from the President, thereby certifying the need for federal disaster assistance and ensuring the expenditure of a reasonable amount of funds of the Commonwealth, its local governments, or other agencies for alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering resulting from the disaster;

(9) To provide incident command system guidelines for state agencies and local emergency response organizations;

(10) Whenever, in the opinion of the Governor or his designee, an employee of a state or local public safety agency responding to a disaster has suffered an extreme personal or family hardship in the affected area, such as the destruction of a personal residence or the existence of living conditions that imperil the health and safety of an immediate family member of the employee, to direct the Comptroller of the Commonwealth to issue warrants not to exceed $2,500 per month, for up to three calendar months, to the employee to assist the employee with the hardship; and

(11) During a disaster caused by a communicable disease of public health threat for which a state of emergency has been declared pursuant to subdivision (7), to establish a program through which the Governor may purchase PPE for private, nongovernmental entities and distribute the PPE to such private, nongovernmental entities. If federal funding is available to establish and fund the program, the Governor, if necessary to comply with any conditions attached to such federal funding, shall be entitled to seek reimbursement for such purchases from the private, nongovernmental entities and may establish and charge fees to recover the cost of administering the program, including the cost of procuring and distributing the PPE. However, if federal funding is not available to establish and fund the program, the Governor shall, prior to making such purchases, receive a contract for payment for purchase from the private nongovernmental entities for the full cost of procuring and distributing the PPE, which shall include any amortized costs of administering the program. Any purchase made by the Governor pursuant to this subdivision shall be exempt from the provisions of the Virginia Public Procurement Act (§ 2.2-4300 et seq.), except the Governor shall be encouraged to comply with the provisions of § 2.2-4310 when possible. The Governor shall also provide for competition where practicable and include a written statement regarding the basis for awarding any contract. Prior to implementing such a program, the Department of Emergency Management shall consult with and survey private, nongovernmental entities in order to assess demand for participation in the program as well as the quantity and types of personal protective equipment such entities would like to procure.

As used in this subdivision, "personal protective equipment" or "PPE" means equipment or supplies worn or employed to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses and may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, coveralls, vests, full body suits, hand sanitizer, plastic shields, or testing for the communicable disease of public health threat.

B. No rule, regulation, or order issued by the Governor or other governmental entity pursuant to this chapter shall impose restrictions on the operation of a place of worship that are more restrictive than the restrictions imposed on any other business, organization, or activity.

1973, c. 260; 1974, c. 4; 1975, c. 11; 1981, c. 116; 1990, c. 95; 1997, c. 893; 2000, c. 309; 2004, cc. 773, 1021; 2006, c. 140; 2007, cc. 729, 742; 2008, cc. 121, 157; 2020, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 14, 15, 17, 38; 2022, cc. 803, 805; 2023, c. 603.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.