Committee Approves AG Nomination, PEMA Director Confirmation Bill

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee today (May 5) unanimously recommended the confirmation of Major General James R. Joseph as the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and approved a bill to require the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director to be confirmed by the Senate, according to Senator Randy Vulakovich, Committee Chairman.

General Joseph began his military career as an enlisted soldier in 1971, completed training as a military policeman and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. He joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1974 and was assigned as a combat engineer before completing Officer Candidate School in 1978. He has held leadership positions from Platoon Leader through Assistant Division Commander including numerous key staff positions. General Joseph earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Shippensburg University and is a graduate of the Army War College.

“I was pleased to move General Joseph’s nomination to the full Senate. He has a long and distinguished military career in service to the Commonwealth and our nation,” Senator Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) said. “General Joseph and his staff have been great to work with and I trust that we will continue to do so on a number of matters important to the Pennsylvania National Guard and our nearly one million veterans in Pennsylvania.”

The nomination now goes to the full Senate for confirmation.

The Committee also approved Senate Bill 490, a measure introduced by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) that would include the PEMA Director as a position subject to review and confirmation by the Senate. Currently, the post is filled by appointment by the Governor.

“The PEMA Director has direct oversight and control during emergencies in the Commonwealth. We have been fortunate over the years that the agency has been led by many capable individuals, as it is now,” said Senator Vulakovich. “In my view, PEMA should be considered in the same capacity as the many state departments that oversee the core roles of state government. As such, it is appropriate that the Senate take an active role in the process to ensure that the most qualified and experienced individuals are selected to lead Pennsylvania’s response during crisis situations.”

“Requiring Senate confirmation of the PEMA Director will be a positive step toward improving agency accountability and ensuring that there is strong communication and coordination in responding to emergencies,” Senator Baker said. “Citizens expect state and local emergency response to be provided in a timely, expedient, and responsible manner. This enhanced level of scrutiny is necessary and just one of several steps that we are considering to better ensure a uniform and consistent system of emergency management in Pennsylvania.”

Contact:  Nate Silcox (717) 787-6538