Title 30
Military Affairs and Defense

Chapter 15
Emergency Management

R.I. Gen. Laws § 30-15-9

§ 30-15-9. Governor’s responsibilities relating to disaster emergencies.

(a) The governor shall be responsible for meeting the dangers to the state and people presented by disasters.

(b) A state of emergency shall be declared by executive order or proclamation of the governor if he or she finds a disaster has occurred or that this occurrence, or the threat thereof, is imminent. The state of disaster emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat or danger has passed or the disaster has been dealt with to the extent that emergency conditions no longer exist and terminates the state of disaster emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of disaster emergency may continue for longer than thirty (30) days unless renewed by the governor. The general assembly, by concurrent resolution, may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time. Thereupon, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency and what actions are being taken to control the emergency and what action the public should take to protect themselves. All executive orders or proclamations issued under this subsection shall indicate the nature of the disaster, the area or areas threatened, and the conditions that have brought it about or that make possible termination of the state of disaster emergency. An executive order or proclamation shall be disseminated promptly by means calculated to bring its contents to the attention of the general public and, unless the circumstances attendant upon the disaster prevent or impede, promptly filed with the agency, the secretary of state, and the city and town clerks in the area to which it applies.

(c) An executive order or proclamation of a state of disaster emergency, shall activate the state and local disaster emergency plans applicable to the political subdivision or area in question and shall be authority for the deployment and use of any forces to which the plan or plans apply and for the use or distribution of any supplies, equipment, and materials and facilities assembled, stockpiled, or arranged to be made available pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law relating to disaster emergencies.

(d) During the continuance of any state of disaster emergency the governor is commander-in-chief of the organized and unorganized militia and of all other forces available for emergency duty. To the greatest extent practicable, the governor shall delegate or assign command authority by prior arrangement embodied in appropriate executive orders or regulations, but nothing herein restricts the governor’s authority to do so by orders issued at the time of the disaster emergency.

(e) In addition to any other powers conferred upon the governor by law, the governor may exercise the following powers, subject to the provisions of subsection (g) of this section, limited in scope and duration as is reasonably necessary for emergency response:

(1) Suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency, provided that the suspension of any statute, order, rule or regulation will be limited in duration and scope to the emergency action requiring said suspension;

(2) Utilize all available resources of the state government as reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster emergency and of each political subdivision of the state;

(3) Transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of state departments and agencies or units thereof for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency services;

(4) Subject to any applicable requirements for compensation under § 30-15-11, commandeer or utilize any private property if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the disaster emergency;

(5) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if the governor deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery;

(6) Prescribe routes, modes of transportation, and destinations in connection with evacuation;

(7) Control ingress and egress to and from a high risk area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein;

(8) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles;

(9) Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency shelter;

(10) Make and promulgate such rules and regulations as the governor may deem advisable for the assigning, detailing, and making available for duty and use in any city or town of this state any of the personnel, apparatus, or equipment of any police or fire department of any other city or town, or of any volunteer fire company, or of any fire district, and that personnel shall have the same powers, duties, rights, privileges, and immunities as if performing their duties in the city or town in which they normally would be employed, but the personnel shall obey the orders of the police and fire authorities of the city or town to which assigned, detailed, or made available. When assigned, detailed, or made available as aforesaid, the city or town in which the police or firefighters shall perform outside duties shall provide them with subsistence or pay them a reasonable allowance therefor, and shall also be liable for any damage to the apparatus or equipment incurred while being so used; provided, however, that a city or town shall be reimbursed by the state out of the general fund of the state for all expenses incurred under the foregoing provisions of this subsection;

(11) Designate as a special emergency health and sanitation area, any area within the state that has been seriously damaged by disaster, or in which the existence of any military, naval, or air establishment of the United States of America or of any industrial establishment constructed or enlarged for purposes of national defense, has caused an increase in the population of that area to such an extent as to produce unusual problems of health and sanitation. It is the duty of state health authorities and the local code enforcement officials to make and enforce rules and regulations designed to prevent the introduction of any contagious or infectious disease and to safeguard the public health within the area. The governor may promulgate and enforce additional rules and regulations for the protection of the public health within areas as may be necessary;

(12) Whenever, in the governor’s opinion, due to a disaster there is liable to be a serious shortage in the supply of food, fuel, clothing, antitoxins, serums, immunizing agents, or any other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies, or any other necessity of life or defense, and the federal authorities are not adequately dealing with the situation, promulgate such rules and regulations as he or she, from time to time, deems necessary to regulate the sale, purchase, or distribution of those necessities and to prohibit and prevent the wasting, secreting, hiding, or hoarding of, or profiteering from, those necessities; additionally, during a declared time of state or national emergency, no person, firm, or corporation shall increase the price of any item it sells or offers for sale at retail immediately prior to the proclamation of emergency or during the proclaimed state of emergency. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the fluctuation in the price of items sold at retail that occurs during the normal course of business. Any person, firm, or corporation who or that violates any provision of this subsection shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100);

(13) Do all other things necessary to effectively cope with disasters in the state not inconsistent with other provisions of law;

(14) Adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste as may be reasonable and necessary for emergency response due to a state disaster emergency. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, the collection, storage, handling, destruction, treatment, transportation, and disposal of infectious waste;

(15) Adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of corpses as may be reasonable and necessary for emergency response due to a state disaster emergency. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, the embalming, burial, cremation, interment, disinterment, transportation, and disposal of corpses; and

(16) Compel a person to submit to a physical examination and/or testing as necessary to diagnose or treat the person. The medical examination and/or testing may be performed by any qualified person authorized by the department of health and must not be reasonably likely to result in serious harm to the affected individual. The medical examination and/or testing shall be performed immediately upon the order of the department of health without resort to judicial or quasi-judicial authority. If the department of health is uncertain whether a person who refuses to undergo medical examination and/or testing may have been exposed to an infectious disease or otherwise poses a danger to public health, the department of health may subject the individual to isolation or quarantine pursuant to § 23-8-4.

(f) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit or restrict the power of the general assembly to appropriate any federal funds received by the state of Rhode Island pursuant to § 35-4-22.1.

(g) Powers conferred upon the governor pursuant to the provisions of subsection (e) of this section for disaster emergency response shall not exceed a period of one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of the emergency order or proclamation of a state of disaster emergency, unless and until the general assembly extends the one hundred eighty (180) day period by concurrent resolution.

(h) Nothing contained in subsection (g) of this section shall be construed to apply to the following executive orders issued by the governor that shall remain in effect and may be extended by further executive order up to, but not beyond, September 1, 2021:

(1) 20-06;

(2) 20-19;

(3) 20-37;

(4) 20-46 as amended by 21-60;

(5) 20-72;

(6) 21-26;

(7) 21-67; and

(8) 21-68, limited to paragraph 8.

History of Section.
P.L. 1973, ch. § 2; P.L. 2000, ch. 170, § 2; P.L. 2003, ch. 185, § 4; P.L. 2003, ch. 189, § 4; P.L. 2004, ch. 64, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 83, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 511, art. 2, § 38; P.L. 2021, ch. 162, art. 3, § 3, effective July 6, 2021.