HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania lawmakers have begun the discussion of creating a state disaster assistance program.

With Pennsylvania still reeling from the one-two punch of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, state House and Senate committees held a joint hearing into the notion of creating some form of state disaster assistance program, as 25 other states have. The idea is to aid local communities when damage falls short of qualifying for federal aid. But Glenn Cannon, head of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, cautioned lawmakers to be careful.

“If a state had a very large fund committed to dealing with disasters, it might be very hard for the state to argue that the situation is beyond the capability of state or local government. With a large state disaster fund, the federal government might require those funds to be expended before giving disaster assistance.”

One solution, Cannon says, might be to create a non-profit organization to keep the money set aside for disaster relief off the state’s books.

Reported by Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio