Assembly Bill 38, creating a new agency named CALEMA, California Emergency Management Agency, passed the state Legislature with bipartisan support, it was announced Friday. The bill now goes to the governor.

The bill would combine the Office of Emergency Services and the Office of Homeland Security into a Cabinet-level California Emergency Management Agency. The bill would give CALEMA the responsibility of overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery and homeland security activities in the state.

“Emergency personnel, firefighters and law enforcement all over the state have been asking for this reform for many years. CALEMA will make the state more responsive when disaster strikes,” said Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Services and Homeland Security. “Everyone saw the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the poor response by the federal government. We want to make sure that California’s emergency response and recovery system works effectively and efficiently and can respond to the needs of its residents.”

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Little Hoover Commission and the Bureau of State Audits have conducted separate examinations of California’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities and recommended that the Legislature streamline state operations by consolidating OES and OHS into a single entity.

As a result, the entity would allow the state to reduce its administrative costs and reduce the conflict and duplication from having separate agencies. Additionally, it would improve coordination and efficiency for the essential function of supporting emergency preparedness and response and protecting California and its residents.

John Mann is a spokesman for Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.