House panel introduces "First Informer" bill

Posted at 12:55 PM, Mar 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-13 15:14:42-04

The House Ways & Means Committee introduced legislation defining broadcasters, including reporters and engineers, as "first informers" during times of declared emergency. 

The proposal seeks to give broadcasters better access to their transmitting equipment during an emergency. 

The legislation states the Idaho Office of Emergency Management may develop or adopt courses of instruction for use in training first informers on personal safety and navigation in an area affected by an emergency. 

The bill's sponsor Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, says some of the reasoning for the legislation came from a situation in eastern Idaho when a brush fire prevented news stations from being able to reach their transmitters for maintenance. 

"When first broadcasters, meaning news media... show up on the site and emergency management is there, they will be able to identify them and know that they've been trained to go and work on their equipment," Thompson said. "[They can] make sure that equipment is up so the public stays informed during that emergency."