WASHINGTON – Two bipartisan bills written by Congressman Paul D. Tonko were voted to advance by the Energy & Commerce Communications & Technology Subcommittee this morning. The first bill, H.R. 3994, the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, establishes an office to streamline management of federal broadband resources across multiple agencies and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access resources. It would also fund local training workshops to help small businesses and economic developers put federal broadband resources to work. The bill is cosponsored by 16 of Tonko’s colleagues, including 6 Republicans.
“Broadband Internet access can be the difference between success and failure for students doing homework, job candidates building toward a new career, doctors reading medical scans or entrepreneurs starting or growing a small business,” Tonko said. “Unfortunately, our government has done a poor job of coordinating existing broadband resources, forcing interested businesses and economic developers to go through a complex and burdensome process. My bill seeks to change all of that, tracking federal broadband resources through a single, streamlined and accountable office. I am grateful to the subcommittee members for advancing this commonsense measure and look forward to its continued progress.”
ACCESS BROADBAND stands for Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand.
The second bipartisan bill, H.R. 5709, the PIRATE Act, would increase penalties and restrictions on unlawful broadcasting, sometimes referred to as ‘pirate radio.’ Pirate signals are sent from illegal radio operators and can pose a significant threat to public safety – oftentimes disrupting Federal Aviation Administration operations, the Emergency Alert System and other tools relied upon by first responders.
“Protecting our public airwaves is an essential part of protecting our communities,” said Tonko. “Whether a radio frequency is being used by first responders coordinating to save lives or parents who just want to keep obscenity and bigotry away from their children, our communities are better served when broadcasting is governed by the rule of law. I am grateful to my colleagues for their support of the PIRATE Act, important legislation that will ensure our airwaves and communities are kept safe.”
The PIRATE Act is short for Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement (PIRATE) Act and is cosponsored by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ). It has been endorsed by the National Association for Broadcasters, New York State Broadcasters Association and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Inc.