Upton co-authors legislation to enable first responders to find 911 cell phone calls

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2003

By Staff
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, on Wednesday hailed introduction of legislation that would establish a national E-911 office within the Department of Commerce and create a block grant program to assist states and localities in building their E-911 systems.
Cass County's congressman is an original co-sponsor of the bill.
Upton announced his commitment to the issue during his "Wireless E-911 Implementation -- Progress and Remaining Hurdles" hearing in June and has worked with Reps. Shimkus, R-Ill., and Eshoo, D-Calif., co-chairs of the House E-911 Caucus, in crafting this bipartisan legislation.
Upton's subcommittee will take up the legislation within the next few weeks.
(Today, public hearings will seek answers for the cause of last month's massive blackouts that paralyzed Michigan, the Midwest and Northeast and left 50 million Americans and Canadians without power. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, the former Michigan congressman, and Michigan Gov. Jennnifer Granholm are among those scheduled to testify.)
Legislation introduced Sept. 2 amends the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act to add (1) an "E-911 Implementation Coordination Office" within the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration; (2) authorize a major block grant program through this proposed, new NTIA office to the states for PSAP (Public Safety Answering Points) readiness; (3) insure that no grant funds can be given to any state unless it first certifies that all money the state collects through the E-911 surtax on consumers' bills goes to E-911 (not diverted to unrelated things); and (4) insure that no grant fund would go to states unless they also have a state E-911 coordinator in place.
Charles Wertenbacker, 16, of City island; Andrew Melnikov, 16, of Manhattan; Henry Badillo, 17, of The Bronx; and Max Guarino, 17, of Manhattan placed that harrowing call from a cell phone as their small boat was going under in icy Long Island Sound.
All four quickly perished as emergency responders were unable to pinpoint their location.
The body of Henry Badillo Jr., who made the gut-wrenching 911 call from a cell phone, was found May 20, about a half-mile south of where they set out in a dinghy that frigid January night.