THE MAGAZINE

First responders

Two Senate bills have been introduced to address communication issues that arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. One bill (S. 1554), introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), would establish a grant program to improve overall communications equipment for first responders. Collins, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said that “This bill takes an important step toward improving emergency communications nationwide so no community experiences the communications failure we saw in parts of the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.” The bill has one cosponsor—ranking minority member on the committee Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)—and has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Another bill (S. 1762), introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would also establish a grant program. However, it would be designed to establish an interoperable communications system for first responders.

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