Press Release

#SubCommTech Clears 7 Bills That Prioritize Public Safety & FCC Oversight


Greg and Melissa Smith In Audience as Subcommittee Passes Kelsey Smith Act – Legislation Prompted By Daughter’s Slaying in 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), today held a markup considering several bills that improve Americans’ access to public safety, improve spectrum efficiency, bring broadband to skilled nursing facilities, and keep the spending of the FCC’s Lifeline program in check.

The following bills passed the subcommittee:

H.R. 2031, Anti-Swatting Act of 2015, authored by committee member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), would;

  • Create enhanced penalties for those who use false or misleading caller ID information to trigger a response by law enforcement agencies, known as “swatters.”

H.R. 3998, Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act, authored by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), would;

  • Create requirements for mobile service providers during emergencies to ensure that consumers have access to networks during disasters, and requires the FCC and GAO to examine the resiliency of networks during these events. In addition, it amends the Stafford Act to ensure all categories of communications service providers may access disaster sites to restore service. 

H.R. 4111, Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, authored by committee member Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), would;

  • Allow skilled nursing facilities to apply for Universal Service funding for communications services used to provide health care in rural communities. 

H.R. 4167, Kari’s Law Act of 2015, authored by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), would;

  • Require that any multi-line telephone system connects directly to 911 when dialed, even in instances where the phone requires the user to dial “9” to get an outside line.

H.R. 4190, Spectrum Challenge Prize of 2015, authored by committee member Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), would;

  • Create a prize program through NTIA to award up to $5 million to participants who develop groundbreaking solutions to maximize spectrum efficiency.

H.R. 4884, the CURB Lifeline Act, authored by Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), would;

  • Reform the FCC’s Lifeline subsidy program by capping the fund at $1.5 billion, prohibiting the use of the subsidy for devices, and phasing out the subsidy for voice only service for mobile.

Kelsey Smith Act, named for their daughter who was murdered in 2007

H.R. 4889, the Kelsey Smith Act, authored by Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), would;

  • Require telecommunications carriers to share location data if law enforcement believes that someone is in danger of death or serious harm.

“As we move forward with these bills, we continue our work towards more modern and effective communications laws. There is no question that this industry is driving our economy in so many ways, and it is our job to make sure that the law doesn’t unnecessarily stand in the way of that progress,” said Subcommittee Chairman Walden. “This markup is another promising step forward in the Subcommittee’s productive legacy.”

Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “Whether it’s dialing 9-1-1, providing tools to law enforcement, or promoting connectivity during disasters, today’s bills help Americans in times of emergency. They modernize communications laws and continue to enable technology to improve the lives of folks back in Michigan and across the country.”

A background memo, electronic copies of the bills, and an archived webcast of the markup can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website here


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