House to lift government hurdles to missing person searches

The House next week will vote on legislation to speed up the process of getting the government's permission to conduct search and recovery operations on federal land.

The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act, H.R. 2166, was proposed last year by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), after volunteers found the bodies of two missing men near Lake Mead, Nev. Heck said volunteers had to wait nearly a year before getting the proper permits to conduct the search, which he said is far too long.

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"[Q]ualified teams were delayed in making their searches due to unnecessary bureaucratic government roadblocks," Heck said back in May. "Families shouldn't go months wondering what happened to their ones."

Heck proposed the bill along with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who said the government shouldn't be a hurdle to finding missing people.

"The last thing families who have lost loved ones need is the federal government to stand in the way of recovering their remains," Heller said.

The bill requires the proper permits to be issued by the federal government within 48 hours from application, a change that would fall on the departments of Agriculture and the Interior. It also lets volunteer groups dodge the requirement of getting an insurance policy, if they agree to waive federal government liability for incidents that might occur during their search operation.