H.R. 632: National Silver Alert Act 2009

H.R. 632

National Silver Alert Act 2009

Sponsor
Rep. Lloyd Doggett

Date
February 10, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

H. R. 632 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This resolution was introduced by Representative Llyod Doggett (D-TX) on January 22, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 632 directs the Department of Justice to establish a national communications network to assist efforts to locate missing senior citizens, and authorizes such sums to carry out the network.  The bill also establishes a national Coordinator for the network to work with States to develop local Silver Alert plans and establish voluntary guidelines.  The Coordinator must consult with various entities including the Federal Communications Commission, and State and local law enforcement.  Additionally, the Coordinator must report to Congress annually on the status and effectiveness of State Silver Alert plans.  The bill would authorize the appropriation of $10 million annually over the 2009-2013 period for DOJ to make grants to states for activities to support the network, to be known as the Silver Alert program. 

H.R. 632 reauthorizes a program where the Attorney General may make competitive grants to organizations for the purpose of maintaining a national, interconnected resource center and clearinghouse for missing adults (also know as Kristen's Act).  Grants may also be used to train agencies and organizations, provide assistance to families, and assist in public notification efforts.  The Attorney General must also coordinate federally funded programs and encourage coordination between State and local law enforcement, public agencies, and nonprofits which receive grants.  $4 million is authorized for each year over the 2010-2020 period for this purpose.

Background

Each year, thousands of older adults in the United States go missing as a result of foul play, or conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.  Such conditions often have the effect of leaving victims disoriented and confused.  It is estimated that over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, and sixty percent of these persons are likely to wander from their homes.  The Alzheimer's Foundation of America states that 50% of such wanderers risk illness, injury, or death if not located within 24 hours.

Currently, at least eight states including Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and California have developed programs and laws to locate missing adults.  Kristen's Act was enacted in 2000 to create a national database to search for missing adults as a result of foul play.  The law is named after Kristen Modafferi, who was an 18 year old Charlotte, North Carolina resident when she vanished in June 1997.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was unable to help her family search for Kristen because she was 18, and thus considered an adult. 

On September 17, 2008, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 6064, under suspension by a voice vote.

Cost

While no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is available for H.R. 632, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 6064, a similar bill from the 110th Congress, "would cost $59 million over the 2009-2013 period, with remaining amounts spent in subsequent years."