Saturday, February 28, 2009

HR 1187 Status – 02-25-09

On February 25th, Rep Rodney Frelinghuysen (R. NJ) introduced HR 1187, the Smarter Funding for All of America’s Homeland Security Act of 2009. The bill would authorize the Secretary of DHS to make grants to first responders, establish an Advisory Council on First Responders, make modifications to the Homeland Security Advisory System, require reports on information sharing with State and local governments, and require a study of the spectrum needs for first responders. The bill was assigned to the Homeland Security Committee with additional assignments to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Judiciary, and Energy and Commerce for the areas under their jurisdictions. First Responder Grants This legislation would add §802, Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders, to Subtitle A of Title VIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The grants made under this section would be in addition to any existing first responder grant program. It would establish a State and Regional First Responder Grant Program through the Office for State and Local Government Coordination. The grants would be targeted at specific risks identified by the Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. Section 802(e)(2) establishes the ten categories of threats that will be used to establish the risk requirement for this grant. The categories include such things as threats against the water supply, food supply and energy supply. Interestingly threats against high-risk chemical facilities are not a listed category; though they would probably fall under one of the listed categories. Grants may not be made under this section unless “unless the Under Secretary identifies a specific vulnerability that is subject to a present or analytically projected threat of an act of terrorism” {§ 802(e)(4)}. Advisory Council on First Responders The bill would also add §803, establishing the Advisory Council on First Responders. The Council would advise the Secretary on the “need for a Federal standard with respect to any particular first responder equipment or training” and other areas of the Department’s missions that would enhance the capabilities of first responders. The Council would meet at least quarterly. Homeland Security Advisory System Section 210F would be added to Subtitle A of title II of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 requiring changes to the Homeland Security Advisory System. It would require that any threat level or warning will be “accompanied by a designation of the geographic regions and economic sectors to which the designation applies.” It would also require the Secretary to make an annual, unclassified-report to Congress explaining the basis for the region specific and sector specific warnings issued in the previous year. Information Sharing Subtitle I of title VIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 would be amended by adding § 899a requiring an annual report from the Secretary to Congress on the issue of security clearances requested by, and issued to, members of State and local governments to allow for the sharing of classified information. First Responder Spectrum Needs The final section of this legislation would require the Secretary to conduct a study to determine if there was a need to assign additional communication spectra to first responders to meet their “their needs associated with a catastrophic regional or national emergency”. The Secretary would be required to report to Congress the results of such a study within 180 days of the enactment of this legislation.

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