Governors push for changes to first responder broadband network bill

Congress may be moving forward on the public safety broadband network, but some Governors say that there isn’t enough involvement from state officials – the primary users of the proposed network. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead (R), co-chairmen of the homeland security committee of the National Governors Association (NGA), have written a letter to Congressional supporters of the network detailing their concerns.

Public safety and law enforcement officials have been calling for a public safety broadband network for years. Now, they may be closer than ever to having it created. The network has support from the Obama administration and Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), are sponsoring a bill that would get the project off the ground after several roadblocks.

However, Governor’s O’Malley and Mead are raising concerns about the level of involvement from state level officials in the network. State level first responders would be the primary users of the network. In a letter to the Senators sponsoring the bill, the Governors note that the governing body for the network should have the majority of seats filled by state level officials for this reason. That would mean a change to the current language of the bill.

The letter cautions against too much federal power in the bill which would be “a federal intrusion into state and local zoning authority.”

The Governors also want to ensure that any spectrum reallocation or project work is signed off on by state officials so that any existing projects and investments will not be impacted. Reallocating that spectrum to other uses would waste “billions of dollars of taxpayer investments,” the letter said.