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                                                      Calendar No. 338
114th Congress    }                                     {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session      }                                     {      114-193

======================================================================



 
                 GOOD SAMARITAN SEARCH AND RECOVERY ACT

                                _______
                                

               December 16, 2015.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Ms. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 373]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the Act (H.R. 373) to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior and Secretary of Agriculture to expedite access to 
certain Federal land under the administrative jurisdiction of 
each Secretary for good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon without amendment and recommends that the 
bill do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of H.R. 373 is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior and Secretary of Agriculture to expedite access to 
certain Federal land under the administrative jurisdiction of 
each Secretary for good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    Volunteer Good Samaritan search-and-rescue teams must 
currently apply for and receive a Federal permit and meet 
liability insurance requirements before they are allowed to 
search for missing persons on Federal land. H.R. 373 was 
introduced in response to the tragic stories of Mr. Keith 
Goldberg and Air Force Staff Sergeant Antonio Tucker. These 
individuals were missing for over a year in the Lake Mead 
National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park 
Service, before volunteer Good Samaritan search-and-recovery 
teams received government authorization to begin search 
operations. In both cases, the teams had to wait to access the 
public lands to conduct the searches for over a year due to 
difficulties navigating existing Federal permitting and 
liability insurance requirements for such operations. Once 
access was granted, these missing persons were recovered almost 
immediately.
    H.R. 373 expedites access to public lands for Good 
Samaritan search-and-recovery organizations to help bring 
closure to families of missing persons as quickly as possible. 
H.R. 373 requires that permits for accessing public lands for 
search and rescue missions be issued or denied to eligible 
organizations or individuals within 48 hours of application. 
The bill provides that eligible organizations or individuals do 
not have to obtain an insurance policy if they waive federal 
government liability. It also enables the Federal government to 
develop long-term partnerships with search-and-rescue 
organizations, thereby conserving government resources and 
possibly saving lives.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    In the 113th Congress, Senator Heller introduced a similar 
bill to H.R. 373, S. 1049, on May 23, 2013. The Subcommittee on 
Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on the bill on 
July 30, 2014 (S. Hrg. 113-433). In the House of 
Representatives, Representatives Heck and Amodei introduced an 
identical companion bill, H.R. 2166, on May 23, 2013. H.R. 2166 
was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and to the 
Committee on Agriculture. On June 6, 2013, the House Natural 
Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental 
Regulation held a hearing on H.R. 2166. The Natural Resources 
Committee favorably ordered the bill reported by voice vote on 
June 12, 2013 (H. Rept. 113-331, Part 1). The House of 
Representatives passed H.R. 2166 by a vote of 394-0 on January 
27, 2014.
    In this Congress, H.R. 373 was introduced by 
Representatives Heck, LaMalfa, Amodei, Zinke, Kelly, 
McClintock, Valadao, and Hardy on January 14, 2015. The bill 
was primarily referred to the Committee on Natural Resources 
and additionally to the Committee on Agriculture. The bill was 
ordered reported by the House Natural Resources Committee on 
March 25, 2015. The House Agriculture Committee discharged the 
bill on April 15, 2015. H.R. 373 was passed by the House under 
suspension of the rules as amended by a vote of 413-0 on April 
28, 2015. The bill was received in the Senate and referred to 
the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
    On January 13, 2015, an identical companion bill, S. 160, 
was introduced by Senators Heller and Warner. The Subcommittee 
on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on S. 160 
on May 21, 2015.
    On November 19, 2015, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources met in open business session and ordered H.R. 373 
favorably reported without amendment.

            COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION AND TABULATION OF VOTES

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on November 19, 2015, by a majority voice 
vote of a quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 
373.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 contains the short title, ``Good Samaritan Search 
and Recovery Act.''
    Section 2(a) contains definitions.
    Section 2(b) directs the Secretary of the Interior and the 
Secretary of Agriculture to develop and implement a process to 
provide eligible organizations and individuals expedited access 
to Federal lands to conduct Good Samaritan search-and-recovery 
operations. The process should make it clear that eligible 
organizations and individuals are acting for private purposes, 
that they will not be considered Federal volunteers or staff, 
and that the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Federal Employees 
Compensation Act do not apply to them while conducting the Good 
Samaritan search-and-recovery mission.
    Section 2(c) directs the Secretary to waive liability 
insurance requirements if the eligible organization or 
individual agrees to certain conditions and signs a waiver 
releasing the Federal government from all liability associated 
with their search-and-rescue mission.
    Section 2(d) sets timelines and procedures for the approval 
or denial of requests made by eligible organizations or 
individuals to carry out Good Samaritan search-and-recovery 
missions. This section also directs each Secretary to develop 
search-and-recovery-focused partnerships with appropriate 
organizations to coordinate Good Samaritan search-and-recovery 
missions on Federal land and to expedite mission efforts for 
missing individuals. Finally, the Secretaries are directed to 
submit a report within 180 days following enactment of the Act 
outlining their plans to develop partnerships and their efforts 
to streamline Good Samaritan search-and-recovery efforts.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 4, 2015.
Hon. Lisa Murkowski,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Madam Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 373, the Good 
Samaritan Search and Recovery Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Jeff LaFave.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 373--Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act

    H.R. 373 would require the Secretary of the Interior and 
the Secretary of Agriculture to expedite access to federal 
lands for search and recovery missions conducted by certain 
individuals or organizations. Under the act, entities 
conducting search and recovery missions would not be considered 
federal employees or volunteers, and the federal government 
would not be liable for the actions of such entities.
    Based on information provided by the Department of the 
Interior and the Forest Service, CBO expects that the costs of 
expediting access to federal lands for search and recovery 
purposes would be minimal, and we estimate that implementing 
the legislation would have no significant effect on the federal 
budget.
    Enacting H.R. 373 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.
    H.R. 373 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 
governments.
    On April 6, 2015, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
373, the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, as ordered 
reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources on March 
25, 2015. The two versions of the legislation are similar, and 
the estimated costs are the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out H.R. 373. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of H.R. 373, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    H.R. 373, as ordered reported, does not contain any 
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, 
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the U.S. Forest Service at the 
May 21, 2015, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining 
hearing on S. 160, the Senate companion bill to H.R. 373, 
follows:

   Statement of Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief, National Forest System, 
             Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture


   concerning s. 160, ``to direct the secretary of the interior and 
secretary of agriculture to expedite access to certain federal land . . 
          . for good samaritan search-and-recovery missions''


    Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to present the views of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) regarding S. 160, the Good Samaritan Search 
and Recovery Act.
    S. 160 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to develop 
and implement a process to expedite access to National Forest 
System lands for eligible organizations and individuals to 
conduct Good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions for missing 
individuals presumed to be deceased at the time the search is 
initiated. S. 160 would provide that an eligible organization 
or individual may not be required to have liability insurance 
if the organization or individual agrees to release the United 
States from all liability. The bill also would require that the 
process include provisions clarifying that an eligible 
organization or individual would not be considered to be a 
Federal volunteer when carrying out a Good Samaritan search-
and-recovery mission, and that the Federal Torts Claims Act and 
the Federal Employee Compensation Act would not apply to a Good 
Samaritan search-and-recovery mission.
    Additionally, it would require the Secretary to provide 
notification of the approval or denial of a request to carry 
out a mission not more than 48 hours after the request is made. 
If a request is denied, the agency would be required to provide 
a reason and describe actions needed to meet the requirements 
for approval. The bill would also require the Secretary to 
develop partnerships with search and recovery organizations to 
help coordinate, expedite, and accelerate mission efforts. A 
report is also required to Congress no later than 180 days 
after the date of enactment on plans to develop partnerships, 
as well as efforts to expedite and accelerate Good Samaritan 
search-and-recovery mission efforts for missing individuals on 
Federal land.
    The Department supports S. 160 with technical corrections 
and amendments. The provisions specified in S. 160 and the 
desired intent of the Act, to allow expedited access to Federal 
lands for search and recovery missions, are substantially 
consistent with current Forest Service policies and guidelines 
governing these types of activities and access. The provisions 
requiring the development and implementation of a process to 
expedite access would be unnecessary and redundant in most 
search and recovery cases on National Forest System lands.
    The Forest Service currently has very few access 
restrictions to Federal lands under its jurisdiction for the 
type of activities described in the Act. Notable exceptions 
would include some restrictions to areas designated as 
Wilderness, and special area closures for events such as fire 
or avalanche.
    The provisions requiring the development and implementation 
of a process to expedite access would be unnecessary in most 
search and recovery cases on National Forest System lands. In 
most areas, the County Sheriff has the primary responsibility 
for search, recovery, and rescue operations on National Forest 
System lands and can act without a permit issued by the Forest 
Service. The Forest Service currently has cooperative 
agreements with County Sheriffs, which could address procedures 
for them to conduct search and rescue missions on National 
Forest System lands.
    Mr. Chairman, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the 
congressional consideration of S. 160, the Forest Service is 
committed to working with all organizations and the dedicated 
men and women who volunteer their time and expertise to assist 
in the search and recovery of those missing.
    This concludes my prepared statement. I am happy to answer 
any questions you may have.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by the bill as ordered 
reported.

                                  [all]