Legislation to Enhance Emergency Alerts Introduced in Congress
Monday, October 28, 2019 | Comments

Rep. Jerry McNerney introduced H.R. 4856, the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act of 2019 (READI Act). Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Olson also sponsored the bipartisan legislation to help ensure more people receive critical emergency alerts on their mobile phones, televisions and radios.

The bill would also pave the way for examining the feasibility of issuing alerts through online audio and video streaming services and help states improve their plans for emergency alerts, equip alerting officials with tools for issuing alerts and establish a reporting system for false alerts.

Sens. Brian Schatz and Senator John Thune introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“The devastating wildfires that California experienced in recent years, and is continuing to experience at this very moment, demonstrate the need for having a robust, reliable and widely used wireless emergency alert (WEA) system,” said McNerney. “The READI Act will help improve the current WEA system and emergency alerting more broadly, so that my constituents and Americans across the country can count on receiving life-saving warnings when faced with these dire situations.”

The READI Act would require state emergency communications committees to periodically review and update their state emergency alert system (EAS) plans, which are often out of date. The bill would also direct FEMA to provide guidance to state, tribal and local governments on issuing alerts and on training and certification of alerting officials, among other things.

The bill would establish a reporting system for false alerts so that the FCC can track when they occur and examine their causes and ensure that more people receive emergency alerts by eliminating the option to opt out of receiving certain federal alerts on mobile phones. The act would also explore the feasibility of providing emergency alerts to the public through online audio and video streaming services.

The READI Act is supported by CTIA, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Internet Association, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and NCTA – The Internet and Television Association.

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