By Kavan Peterson
Date: July 02, 2003
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security lowered the national terror alert level from "high risk" to "elevated" on April 16, saying the conclusion of heavy fighting in Iraq has reduced the threat of terrorist attacks.
With local and state agencies squeezed by budget cuts and increased security costs, state officials are urging the federal government to fulfill promises to help states pay for homeland security. President George W. Bush promised to provide $3.5 billion to help states prepare for possible terrorist attacks, but his proposal for the 2003 budget includes only $2 billion in new money. States may receive additional homeland security funds in a supplemental budget bill requested by Bush to pay for the Iraq war.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government has released $566 million to state and local governments for the purchase of equipment for "first responders" - police, fire and health personnel - and training programs. The National Governors Association estimates that anti-terrorism efforts have cost states at least $6 billion in one-time expenses in the first year alone. Bush's proposal to inoculate 500,000 health care workers against smallpox has been stalled by the possibility of serious side effects related to the vaccine. Thousands of healthcare workers have refused to volunteer for the vaccine until a compensation fund is established. Concern about a possible link between heart problems and the smallpox vaccinations have also prompted 10 states to suspend their anti-terrorism immunization programs.
Some states have adopted anti-terrorism legislation that expanded criminal definitions and penalties for terrorist activity, authorized wiretapping provisions to apply to newer technologies such as cell phones and e-mail, and updated rules governing quarantines in the event of a biological attack.
Original article: http://www.stateline.org/issue.do;jsessionid=ia94o1lca1?issueId=541