CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, January 27, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 2166, the Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act of 2013, as Amended, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 23, 2013 by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent.
H.R. 2166 directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop and implement a process to expedite access to federal lands for eligible individuals and organizations to conduct “Good Samaritan” search-and-recovery missions. These individuals and organizations would be acting for private purposes, and would not be considered federal volunteers. Moreover, this legislation authorizes the Secretary to exempt eligible organizations and individuals from obtaining liability insurance as a condition of accessing federal lands, provided that the organizations agree to release the federal government from all liability-related to search-and-recovery activities. H.R. 2166 also requires that permit requests for access to public lands be approved or rejected within 48 hours of application.
H.R. 2166 further directs the Secretary to develop partnerships with search-and-recovery organizations to: 1) coordinate Good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions on federal lands; and 2) expedite and accelerate Good Samaritan search-and-recovery mission efforts for missing individuals on federal lands under the administrative jurisdiction of the Secretary. Finally, this legislation requires the Secretary to submit a report to Congress highlighting the progress of efforts to expedite and accelerate Good Samaritan search-and-recovery mission efforts.
H.R. 2166 was drafted “following the discovery of the bodies of Keith Goldberg and Air Force Staff Sergeant Antonio Tucker in the Lake Mead Recreation Area by Good Samaritan search and rescue teams.” In both cases, volunteer search teams had to wait nearly a year to obtain the permits and liability insurance before their searches could begin. This legislation is intended to expedite that process, allowing volunteer search teams to operate in a more responsive manner.
CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would have no significant impact on the federal budget.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.