U.S. Senate committee advances bill to make Native tribes eligible for Amber Alert grants

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Tuesday approved a bill, S.722, that would make Native tribes eligible for Amber Alert grants.

Amber Alerts are emergency broadcasts in the event of a child abduction.

The bill would also create a permanent program that provides tribes with Amber Alert training.

According to a draft resolution from the National Congress of American Indians, more than 7,000 American Indian children are listed as missing in the U.S.

Amber Alerts were first implemented in Alaska in March 2009. Since then, six alerts have been issued in the state.

Five Amber Alerts were issued out of Anchorage and one was from Palmer. Because many Alaska communities are either off the road system or otherwise isolated, it’s difficult for a child to be removed from their area, according to Paul Fussey, search-and-rescue coordinator with the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

The committee also approved a second bill that would transfer Indian Health Service property in Sitka to SEARHC. The committee unanimously passed the land transfer bill, S. 825.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced the measure to transfer title of 19 acres of land and buildings on the Mount Edgecumbe Hospital campus to the nonprofit.

According to a news release from Murkowski’s office, a clean title would let SEARHC improve and expand the nearly 70-year-old facility, which SEARHC has operated since 1986.

Both bills head to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

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