Saturday, September 3, 2011

HR 2838 Introduced – CG Authorization

Yesterday, during the pro forma session of the House, Rep. LoBiondo (R,NJ), introduced HR 2838, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011. LoBiondo is the Chair of the Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

This proposed legislation is a significant deviation from the recent history of authorization bills in that it does not introduce a large number of new programs and responsibilities for the covered organization. The bill does include a new policy on sexual harassment/violence {§202} and it does call for an assessment to be made on “the need for additional Coast Guard prevention and response capability in the high latitude regions” {§308}. These and a few other new requirements form a really modest set of mandates for the Coast Guard.

No mention is made of the Maritime Transportation Security Act or any of its components.

GPS Interference

There is an interesting provision that the Federal Communications Commission and Lightspeed may find disconcerting. Section 302 of the bill would make it a Class E Felony to “knowingly and willfully operate[s] a device that interferes with the broadcast or reception of a radio, microwave, or other signal (including a signal from a global positioning system) transmitted, retransmitted, or augmented by the Coast Guard for the purpose of maritime safety”.

Where the appropriations committees have been requiring reports from various agencies on the reports of GPS interference by the proposed new broadband communications system from Lightspeed, Chairman LoBiondo appears to be trying to do something about it. It remains to be seen how liberal (excuse me for mentioning ‘liberal’ and ‘LoBiondo in the same paragraph) he expects the term ‘maritime safety’ to extend. Would it cover, for instance, control systems at portside chemical facilities?

Authorization Bill a Priority

According to the Subcommittee web site, passing a Coast Guard Authorization Bill is a priority for Chairman LoBiondo. We’ll have to watch how quickly it progresses in the next couple of weeks to see how much of a priority it really is. Of course, this bill will have to be reconciled with the desires of Chairman Rockefeller of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

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