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April 25, 2014

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House OKs Heck’s bill to streamline search-and-rescue operations

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Congressman Joe Heck, R-Nev., smiles as someone's ringtone plays George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" during a town hall meeting with constituents at Pacific Pines Senior Apartments in Henderson on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

The House passed legislation written by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., to make it easier for volunteer search-and-rescue teams to access public lands.

Heck introduced the legislation, which passed unanimously, after volunteers found the bodies of Keith Goldberg, a cab driver, and Antonio Tucker, an Air Force staff sergeant stationed at Creech Air Force Base, in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in April. It had taken the search-and-rescue team that found them almost a year to get the permits and insurance that let them explore the area.

“Unnecessary red tape simply must not continue to get in the way of providing closure for families faced with similarly tragic circumstances,” Heck said Monday.

The bill would assure that volunteer search-and-rescue teams, otherwise known as Good Samaritan operations, would receive an answer to their permit requests from the secretary of interior or agriculture — depending on which has jurisdiction — within 48 hours of submitting a petition to explore an area for missing persons.

It also provides some lawsuit protections for the volunteers who participate in the ventures.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has already introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

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