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Regular National EAS Tests Considered

Provision part of FEMA IPAWS authorization

A bill introduced into the House to reauthorize FEMA includes a provision that would require national EAS tests “at least once” every three years.

The bill, (H.R. 3300) reauthorizes FEMA through Fiscal Year 2016 at $972 million each year, consistent with current funding levels. Some $12 million of the total would provide Congressional authorization for FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, which uses several technologies to simultaneously send alerts through many different channels. EAS, along with wireless alerts, Internet services and NOAA, is part of IPAWS.

The measure establishes system requirements and capabilities for IPAWS and gives certain stakeholders, including federal, state, local and private sector entities, input into its development. If passed, within 90 days of enactment, FEMA would establish an IPAWS advisory committee, comprised of the FCC chairman, the NOAA administrator, the Department of Commerce assistant secretary for communications, as well as alerting stakeholders like equipment vendors, commercial and noncommercial radio and television broadcasters, and representatives from the satellite, cellular and cable industries.

The bill was introduced last week into the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Ranking Member Nick Rahall, (D-W.Va.), Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and Emergency Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Andre Carson (D-Ind.)

The measure is similar to one introduced last year that did not pass Congress.