Slotkin Co-Leads Bipartisan Bill to Protect Local Communities in Michigan from Cyber Attacks

February 13, 2020
Press Release
With Slotkin’s amendment, bill passes out of Homeland Security Committee

WASHINGTON –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) co-led the introduction of a bipartisan bill that would create a new, $400-million grant program to help state and local governments in Michigan guard against cyber attacks. Slotkin co-led the introduction of the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act in response to consistent concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities from local governments in the 8th district. This comes one month after convening a discussion on tools for preventing and responding to cyber attacks with dozens of participants from local governments and schools across the 8th district. The bill advanced out of the Homeland Security Committee today.

State and local governments are rich targets for cyber adversaries and the frequency of attacks is accelerating. Slotkin introduced an amendment, which passed out of committee today as part of the bill, to help tailor the legislation to support Michigan’s specific approaches to cybersecurity. Slotkin’s amendment was crafted in direct response to feedback from local entities in the district, and would ensure that Michigan communities can receive federal funding when they band together to better protect themselves –– an approach that some the 8th district communities are taking in response to cyber threats. Slotkin’s amendment also ensures that Michigan can use grant funds to pay for new programs the state is currently developing to provide cybersecurity services to local governments –– to ensure Michigan can take full advantage of this new grant money in its cyber protection efforts.

"In the year that I've been in Congress, one of the most common things I've been asked about when I go visit a local town supervisor or school district is cybersecurity,” Slotkin said. “And we know that a lot of our smaller communities in particular have been attacked, and on the receiving end of a constant stream of cyber threats. Our small communities need resources to combat these threats – which is why I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill to create a new grant program that specifically supports the cybersecurity needs of our state and local communities.”

“In Michigan and across the country, we’re seeing more and more state and local entities targeted by cyberattacks that can threaten residents’ private information and public safety,” said Chris DeRusha, Chief Security Officer for the state of Michigan. “A critical part of keeping our communities protected is making sure that everyone, from large cities down to small towns, have adequate resources to guard their systems from attack. Rep. Slotkin’s bill provides grant funding that will help communities across our state do just that. I was glad to see Rep. Slotkin listen to local leaders to implement changes in the bill that will assist the specific type of work we’re doing here in Michigan to protect our communities from cyberattacks.”

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act:

  • Establishes a $400 million DHS grant program, with incentives for states to increase funding for cybersecurity in their budgets;
  • Requires the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop a  strategy to improve the cybersecurity of state and local governments to, among other things, identify federal resources that could be made available to state and local governments for cybersecurity purposes and set baseline objectives for state and local cybersecurity efforts;
  • Requires states seeking grant funding to develop comprehensive cybersecurity plans with input from local governments to guide the guide use of grant dollars;
  • Establishes a State and Local Cybersecurity Resiliency Committee comprised of representatives from state and local governments to advise and provide situational awareness to CISA regarding the cybersecurity needs of state and local governments;
  • Requires CISA to assess the feasibility of implementing a short-term rotational program for the detail of approved state and local government employees in cyber workforce positions at CISA.

Today, state and local governments are not in the position to defend their networks against the cyberattacks from sophisticated foreign adversaries or cyber criminals. Stretched state and local budgets have not adequately funded cybersecurity, and despite the potential national security consequences of a cyberattack against a state or local government, the federal government has been slow to act. Passage of the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act is an important first step toward defending state and local networks.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act requires both the federal government and its state partners to develop strategies to bolster state and local cybersecurity capabilities and provides funding to ensure those strategies are implemented. Investing in cybersecurity before a cyberattack saves money, protects important data housed on state and local networks, and ensures state and local governments can continue to provide the important services Americans rely on.