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                                                      Calendar No. 227
114th Congress     }                                    {      Report
 1st Session       }                                    {      114-142



                              R E P O R T

                                 of the


                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 1090

                             OTHER PURPOSES


               September 15, 2015.--Ordered to be printed

                         U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 

49-010                         WASHINGTON : 2015 

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin, Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire          CORY A. BOOKER, New Jersey
JONI ERNST, Iowa                     GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
BEN SASSE, Nebraska

                    Keith B. Ashdown, Staff Director
                  Christopher R. Hixon, Chief Counsel
             David S. Luckey, Director of Homeland Security
       William H.W. McKenna, Chief Counsel for Homeland Security
     Brooke N. Ericson, Deputy Chief Counsel for Homeland Security
              Gabrielle A. Batkin, Minority Staff Director
           John P. Kilvington, Minority Deputy Staff Director
               Mary Beth Schultz, Minority Chief Counsel
     Stephen R. Vina, Minority Chief Counsel for Homeland Security
         Robert H. Bradley, Minority Professional Staff Member
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk

                                                      Calendar No. 227
114th Congress      }                                   {      Report
 1st Session        }                                   {      114-142



               September 15, 2015.--Ordered to be printed


 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1090]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 1090) to amend the 
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act 
to provide eligibility for broadcasting facilities to receive 
certain disaster assistance, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.


  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................3
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................3
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................3
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................4
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............4

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The purpose of S. 1090, the Emergency Information 
Improvement Act of 2015, is to clarify that current law, which 
authorizes assistance to nonprofits that provide critical 
services to their communities, may include private nonprofit 
broadcasting facilities. While nonprofit broadcast facilities 
currently may meet the statutory criteria for eligibility for 
this assistance, the law does not specifically identify them as 
eligible and some such facilities have faced significant delays 
in receiving assistance in the past. This bill would eliminate 
any potential ambiguity by explicitly listing broadcast 
facilities as an eligible provider of critical services.

              II. Background and the Need for Legislation

    The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
Assistance Act (the ``Stafford Act''), which was signed into 
law on November 23, 1988, amended a previous federal statute 
governing the federal response to disasters, the Disaster 
Relief Act of 1974.\1\ Under the Stafford Act, the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides disaster assistance 
to eligible state, tribal, and local governments as well as to 
certain types of private nonprofit organizations through the 
Public Assistance Grant Program.\2\
    \1\Pub. L. No. 100-707 and Pub. L. No. 93-288, respectively.
    \2\42 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 5172-73.
    Upon a disaster, the Public Assistance Grant Program helps 
eligible governments and organizations cover the cost of debris 
removal; emergency protective measures; and the repair, 
replacement, or restoration of publicly owned facilities, 
including facilities owned by eligible private nonprofit 
organizations that provide critical services, such as power, 
water, communications, and education.\3\
    \3\42 U.S.C. Sec. 5172; 44 C.F.R. Sec. 206.221 (defining ``public 
facility'' as ``the following facilities owned by a State or local 
government: any flood control, navigation, irrigation, reclamation, 
public power, sewage treatment and collection, water supply and 
distribution, watershed development, or airport facility; any non-
Federal aid, street, road, or highway; and any other public building, 
structure, or system, including those used for educational, 
recreational, or cultural purposes; or any park.''; and defining 
``private nonprofit facility'' as ``any private nonprofit educational, 
utility, emergency, medical, or custodial care facility, including a 
facility for the aged or disabled, and other facility providing 
essential governmental type services to the general public, and such 
facilities on Indian reservations.'').
    In recent years, several private nonprofit broadcast 
stations have sought financial assistance through this FEMA 
program, including in the aftermath of Hurricanes Sandy, 
Katrina, and Isaac. However, some of these entities have 
encountered difficulties in receiving timely assistance, 
despite the critical emergency services that those broadcasters 
provided to their communities.
    For example, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in 2012, 
New York Public Radio (NYPR), an independent non-profit 
organization that owns and operates seven radio facilities in 
New York and New Jersey, sustained significant damage.\4\ The 
organization applied for funding under the Public Assistance 
program to repair the damage, but was initially denied on the 
grounds that the facility did not meet the definition of an 
eligible non-profit ``communications utility/facility.''\5\ 
Ultimately, after receiving additional information from the 
facility, FEMA found the facility to be eligible given the 
critical nature of the services provided by the facility and 
the impact to the health and safety of the general public.\6\ 
Until the facility was fixed, NYPR was forced to operate on low 
power, significantly reducing its audience reach.\7\
    \4\Letter from Laura R. Walker, President and CEO, New York Public 
Radio to Sergeant Christopher Hartnett, Public Assistance Coordinator, 
Recovery Bureau--EMS (Apr. 11, 2013) (on file with Committee staff).
    \5\Letter from MaryAnn Tierney, Acting Regional Administrator to 
Marc-Philip Ferzan, Governor's Authorized Representative (June 25, 
2013) (on file with Committee staff).
    \6\Letter from Laura R. Walker, supra note 5.
    Similarly, FEMA initially denied a request from the Hancock 
County Amateur Radio Association for funding to repair its 
Kiln, Mississippi radio station after Hurricane Isaac in 
    \8\Data provided to the Committee on August 18, 2015 by the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency; see also Federal Emergency Management 
Agency, Request for Public Assistance,
    Public radio stations can be an essential component in 
local communications and information dissemination during a 
disaster. Locally licensed stations can provide critically 
important public emergency communication services before and 
after disasters. According to a media report, during Hurricane 
Sandy, some radio stations in coastal areas experienced 
audience number increases of up to 367 percent, as the loss of 
power in many areas forced listeners to turn to radio to 
receive key information about the storm.\9\ At the same time, 
broadcast facilities can suffer extensive damage during major 
disasters. Hurricane Katrina, for example, severely damaged 
broadcasting infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region, including 
50 percent of area radio stations and 44 percent of area 
television stations.\10\ Given the important role these 
facilities can play in a disaster, it is important that these 
facilities are repaired as quickly as possible after a 
    \9\Ben Sisario, After Hurricane Sandy, People Flock to Radio for 
Information, NY Times (Nov. 18, 2012), http://
    \10\The White House, The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: 
Lessons Learned (Feb. 2006) at 5.
    While nonprofit broadcasters currently meet the statutory 
criteria for eligibility for the Public Assistance Grant 
Program, the law does not specifically identify them as 
eligible. To eliminate any ambiguity and the potential for 
delayed assistance, S. 1090 amends the Stafford Act to 
specifically list nonprofit broadcasters as among the entities 
that are eligible for this assistance.

                        III. Legislative History

    Senator Cory Booker and Senator Ted Cruz introduced S. 1090 
on April 27, 2015, which was referred to the Committee on 
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Committee 
considered S. 1090 at a business meeting on June 24, 2015. The 
Committee ordered the bill reported favorably, without 
amendment, by voice vote. Senator Ben Sasse was recorded for 
the record as voting ``no.'' Senators present were: Johnson, 
McCain, Lankford, Ayotte, Ernst, Sasse, Carper, Tester, 
Baldwin, Heitkamp and Peters.

        IV. Section-by-Section Analysis of the Bill, as Reported

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the bill's short title, the 
``Emergency Information Improvement Act of 2015.''

Section 2. Eligibility of broadcasting facilities for certain disaster 

    This section amends the definition of ``private nonprofit 
facility'' to include ``broadcasting facilities'' and amends 
the definition of critical services to expand 
``communications'' to include ``broadcast and 

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill and determined 
that the bill will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

                                                      July 7, 2015.
Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. 
        Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman:  The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1090, the Emergency 
Information Improvement Act of 2015.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Martin von 
                                                        Keith Hall.

S. 1090--Emergency Information Improvement Act of 2015

    S. 1090 would codify an existing policy allowing 
broadcasting facilities to be eligible for certain government 
assistance following a disaster. Under current law, private 
nonprofit facilities are eligible to receive grants from the 
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damages 
resulting from a disaster if the facility provides critical 
public services or is ineligible for a Small Business 
Administration loan. According to information provided by FEMA, 
nonprofit broadcasting facilities are eligible for such 
assistance under current agency policy. S. 1090 would 
explicitly list in statute that those facilities are eligible 
    Because the bill would not affect eligibility for FEMA 
grants, CBO estimates that implementing S. 1090 would have no 
federal cost. Enacting S. 1090 would not affect direct spending 
or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    S. 1090 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von 
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 1090 as reported are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, and existing law in which no change is proposed is 
shown in roman):


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


          (1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (11) Private Nonprofit Facility.--
                  (A) * * *
                  (B) Additional facilities.--In addition to 
                the facilities described in subparagraph (A), 
                the term ``private nonprofit facility'' 
                includes any private nonprofit facility that 
                provides essential services of a governmental 
                nature to the general public (including 
                museums, zoos, performing arts facilities, 
                community arts centers, libraries, homeless 
                shelters, senior citizen centers, 
                rehabilitations facilities, shelter workshops, 
                broadcasting facilities, and facilities that 
                provide health and safety services of a 
                governmental nature), as defined by the 

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (a) Contributions.--
          (1) * * *
          (2) * * *
          (3) Conditions for assistance to private nonprofit 
                  (A) * * *
                  (B) Definition of critical services.--In this 
                paragraph, the term ``critical services'' 
                includes power, water (including water provided 
                by an irrigation organization or facility), 
                sewer, wastewater treatment, [communications,] 
                communications (including broadcast and 
                telecommunications), education, and emergency 
                medical care.