Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), the chairman and ranking member of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction, announced the introduction of S. 1753, the Warning, Alerts, and Response Network (WARN) Act. Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), Co-chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Senators David Vitter (R-LA.), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Trent Lott (R-MS) joined as co-sponsors of the legislation.
The bill seeks to establish a unified all hazard alert system to complement the current EAS, NWS and AMBER Alert systems.
The WARN Act strives to ensures communities receive the alerts and warnings necessary to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters, man-made accidents and terrorist attacks by:
- Establishing a network for the transmission of alerts across a broad variety of media, including cell phones, blackberry, digital, analog, cable and satellite television and radio, as well as non-traditional media such as sirens and radios-on-a-stick.
- Providing federal, state and local emergency managers with alert tools and the ability to send out geographically targeted alerts only to those communities at risk.
- Establishing a grant program to help remote communities install sirens and other devices because of the lack of quality telecommunications infrastructure, ensuring that individuals in communities in tornado alley, some of which may not have high cell phone penetration, still get warnings about threatening storms.
- Providing at least $250 million for the research, development and deployment of technologies and equipment to operate the alert systems.
To read the WARN Act, S. 1753 bill language, visit http://commerce.senate.gov/pdf/ahalert.pdf.