House of Reps Passes Act Aimed at Improving Emergency Alerts
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | Comments

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act of 2020. The bill would update how Americans receive emergency alerts through wireless and broadcast emergency alert systems.

The bill was sponsored by Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Pete Olson, Jerry McNerney, and Tulsi Gabbard. With the approval by the house, it now awaits approval by the Senate.

The act would require the FCC to adopt regulations that would encourage the chief executive of each state to establish a state emergency communications committee (SECC) if it doesn’t have one or if it already has one to review the composition and governance of the SECC.

Additionally, the regulations would need to require that no less than once a year, the SECC for each state would need to meet and review and update its state emergency alert system (EAS) plan and submit the updated plan to the FCC. Once a plan has been submitted, the FCC would have 60 days to approve or disapprove the updated EAS plan and notify the state of its findings.

The law would also require the FCC to establish a state EAS plan content checklist for SECCs to use when reviewing and updating their EAS plan.

The act would also require the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop guidance on how state, tribal and local governments can participate in the integrated public alert and warning system of the U.S.

The guidance should include:
• Categories of public emergencies and appropriate circumstances that warrant an alert and warning from state, tribal and local governments;
• Procedures for state, tribal and local government officials to authenticate civil emergencies and initiate, modify and cancel alerts transmitted through the alert system;
• The standardization, functionality and interoperability of incident management and warning tools used by state, tribal and local governments to notify the public of an emergency; and
• The annual training and recertification of emergency management personnel on requirements for originating and transmitting an alert through the public alert and warning system.

The law would require the administrator to consult with different stakeholders including federal agencies, representatives of tribal nations, communications service providers, vendors, and state and local governments.

Finally, the act would also require the commission within 180 days of the enactment of the act to examine the feasibility of updating the EAS to improve alerts to consumers provided through the internet including through streaming services.

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