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house Bill H.R. 1289

Should Phone Number Reassignment be Restricted During Declared Major Disasters?

Argument in favor

People recovering from natural disasters shouldn’t have to worry about keeping their landline phone numbers while they’re rebuilding their lives. Allowing these people to keep their landline phone numbers at no cost is inexpensive, and helps take one thing off their minds. Passing this bill now is particularly salient given the devastating wildfires sweeping the West; people affected by these natural disasters should be able to maintain their home and office phone numbers as needed.

jimK's Opinion
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09/29/2020
I see no justifiable reason to re-assign land line numbers without giving the people assigned to that number adequate time to get themselves properly situated. There should be a widely understood time limit from the time of loss that a number will automatically be held unless officially released by the user. And there should be reasonable accommodations for people to apply to extend the time that transfer is permitted in something like 3 month increments. It costs so little and helps people keep part of their identity during trying trying times.
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Brian's Opinion
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09/29/2020
Sure, this seems like a good idea. I don't know how many people have a landline anymore, but rural people may.
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B.R.'s Opinion
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09/29/2020
There appears that there are good arguments on both sides of the equation. Perhaps, a happy median; extend the already 60 days to one year.
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Argument opposed

In high-demand areas, every phone number with the home district area code is in high demand. Keeping unused landline phone numbers out of circulation will make it hard for phone companies in these high-demand areas to keep providing customers with phone numbers that have the home area code.

Just.Dave's Opinion
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09/30/2020
More house garbage for 'Merica Mitch's shredder.
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Larry's Opinion
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09/29/2020
The phone industry does a fine job and does not need government beaurocrats and politicians who know nothing about the phone business telling them what to do.
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Ronald's Opinion
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09/29/2020
Free American CVitizerns from Govrrnment reulations. Find ways to end "restrictions" and other infrindgements on free enterprise. Coperations would use this to raise prices.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1289?

This bill, known as the Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies (PHONE) Act of 2019, would restrict the reassignment of telephone numbers during a declared major disaster. Specifically, this bill would prohibit a number’s reassignment during a major disaster, unless specifically requested by the subscriber.

Additionally, this bill would allow a subscriber to cancel their telephone service without cancellation fees and to subscribe again with the same number with no fees if the subscriber is located in a disaster area and the disaster resulted in certain types of damage to the subscriber’s residence.

Impact

People impacted by natural disasters; home or office landline phone owners; and phone companies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1289

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), whose district was impacted by the Atlas and Tubbs fires in October 2017 and the Mendocino Complex fires in August 2018, introduced this bill to allow residents who lost their homes to natural disasters to retain their phone numbers at no cost to them during the rebuilding process:

“Survivors of natural disasters deserve to know that the Federal government is doing everything possible to assist them during the recovery process. Preserving landline phone numbers during the rebuilding process is one piece of normalcy that we help offer our constituents who have suffered these terrible disasters. After the October 2017 wildfires, I heard from constituents whose homes were destroyed and wanted to preserve the phone numbers that had been theirs for decades. I am proud to have this legislative solution for them and other survivors like them and will continue working to bring every federal dollar and resource to bear for my constituents and all survivors as they work to rebuild.”

After this bill’s passage by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on September 10, 2020, Rep. Thompson said:

“Right now, our district and our state are facing wildfires on an unprecedented scale. California fire survivors and survivors of any natural disaster deserve every source of peace of mind we can provide, including being able to keep their phone numbers while they rebuild. Unfortunately, under current law, phone companies can’t let survivors do this. That’s why today I was proud to see the full Energy and Commerce Committee pass my bill to solve this problem and let survivors, like those recovering from the LNU Lightning Complex fires in my district, keep their phone numbers while they rebuild their homes. I am so grateful to the committee for clearing this vital legislation and will keep working to get this bill passed on the House floor.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) added that this bill is particularly urgent given this year’s destructive wildfire season:

“Thousands of Californians have had their homes destroyed during this horrific wildfire season, including nearly 1,000 families in my Congressional District. Under the PHONE Act, those who suffer the catastrophe of losing their homes won’t also suffer the loss of their home phone number. I’m proud to have partnered with Rep. Thompson to garner support for this highly important bill that was adopted by the Energy and Commerce Committee on a bipartisan basis.”

Lead Republican cosponsor Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), whose district was impacted by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, adds:

“The PHONE Act is common sense bipartisan legislation and will ensure that as victims of natural disasters go through the long and painful process of rebuilding following loss of property, they will have one less burden to bear. The most recent hurricanes that left portions of Florida severely damaged are a stark reminder of the need to find every way possible to assist these victims.”

This legislation passed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by voice vote with the support of 36 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 23 Democrats and 13 Republicans.


Of NotePhone number reassignment” is the reassignment of a phone number to a new person after a number has been deactivated or disconnected. Typically, this happens around 90 days after the number’s deactivation or disconnection; but it can be faster in high-demand area codes. Recent news reports have shown that reassignment of phone numbers can lead to increased risks for account integrity, and can lead to people getting locked out of account notifications, security codes, password resets, and other messages and alerts that aren’t reaching the right end user.

Immediately after disasters, landline phones can be a critical resource for staying in touch when mobile networks are overwhelmed, as happened in Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings, or taken out by natural disasters, as happened in some areas during Hurricane Harvey. Unlike cell phones, which need to be charged, or wireless landline handsets, traditional corded landline phones will work even without power — a potentially significant advantage during natural disasters.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sam Loyd)

AKA

PHONE Act of 2020

Official Title

PHONE Act of 2020

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedFebruary 14th, 2019
    I see no justifiable reason to re-assign land line numbers without giving the people assigned to that number adequate time to get themselves properly situated. There should be a widely understood time limit from the time of loss that a number will automatically be held unless officially released by the user. And there should be reasonable accommodations for people to apply to extend the time that transfer is permitted in something like 3 month increments. It costs so little and helps people keep part of their identity during trying trying times.
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    Having been through 5 wildfires now I think this would be a kindness as well as a good idea. Our Countywide alert systems don’t work with cellphones so many of us would not be able to obtain emergency information without a landline. Not being able to receive this information because my number had changed could worsen an existing problem or fail to prevent a new one. If you have not ever been in an evacuation you have no idea how confusing and complicated it is to try to return to your home which is no longer there. With more and more people moving out of cities into rural areas where there is little to no cell reception, this will become a more frequent problem assuming we don’t stop the disasters by reversing climate change.
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    Sure, this seems like a good idea. I don't know how many people have a landline anymore, but rural people may.
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    Representatives, We want you to support HR 1289, the Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies (PHONE) Act of 2019 introduced by Representative Mike Thompson. We need to restrict the reassignment of telephone numbers during and after a declared major disaster unless specifically requested by the subscriber. This restriction is both kind and reasonable. The restriction should be in effect approximately 36-60 months past the occurance of the "event" giving the subscriber time to recover, find financing and rebuild their homes. Further the phone company should redirect the landline numbers to cell phones for a nominal fee. When the time limit almost up, the phone company must widely announce in the press, on radio and on TV reminding people of the termination. New numbers must be generated for new residents in an area that has been devasted. Let this bill serve as the basis for again restructuring the phone system since it appears that the exponential number of (mostly cell) phones require more numbers than currently available.
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    More house garbage for 'Merica Mitch's shredder.
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    There appears that there are good arguments on both sides of the equation. Perhaps, a happy median; extend the already 60 days to one year.
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    One less thing they will have to worry about. More stress to have to contact their families, friends and creditors with a new number after recovery. They should not have to worry about that.
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    Now that the vast majority of Americans have cell phones this is especially important. With people having gaps in service due to covid issues it is vital to hold their numbers so that they can be reached by emergency services, employers, schools, doctors, and other critical care providers. In my opinion the right thing to do would be to maintain phone service even if data is cut.
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    Lord help me live from day to day In such a self forgetful way That even when I kneel to pray My prayers will be for others Help me in all the work I do To ever be sincere and true To know the things I do for you Must needs be done for others And when my work on earth is done And my new work in Heaven begun May I forget the crown I’ve won While thinking still of others by Charles D. Meigs
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    Another no brainer - we need to be helping fellow citizens in need, not kicking them while their down for "convenience "
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    The last thing that a person should half to worry about during a disaster is their loss of communication with the world.
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    Free American CVitizerns from Govrrnment reulations. Find ways to end "restrictions" and other infrindgements on free enterprise. Coperations would use this to raise prices.
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    People over businesses. It’s that black and white.
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    This should be a state decision. Also, the wildfires are being set by people, you can look up any number of police and firefighters who have caught these people staring the fires. They jail them and democrats bail them right out and they start more.
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    Another telecom move to make their job easier and the service so much more horrible. Changing the numbers during an emergency is insane as that is exactly when friends and relatives are trying to reach you. If they are saying: go to this number to find the new number, for a mere $$, except they will not mention the $$ until you get your bill and then they MAY negotiate down a small percentage. This is an insane idea if I have read it correctly...(though this site is poorly designed for if I leave here to check, the message will be sent without me pressing ENTER.
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    The phone industry does a fine job and does not need government beaurocrats and politicians who know nothing about the phone business telling them what to do.
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    No reason to add cost by halting this service. If done correctly there would be no interruption of service.
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    Is there something more important and more meaningful?
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    Subscriber authorization.
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    As long as you are paying your bill which should be minimum since you are really not using it shouldn’t become a problem. If it is going to be a year or two why should you get to keep an unused phone number. If you are a business with some easy special phone number like (xxx) 777-7777 then yes you might want to pay each month to keep that easy to remember number. We have a big lawyer in Louisiana and there is Area Code (202) (318) and (337) that cover the state and if you call any of the three area codes and 777-7777 you will get his office. In his case if his law offices were destroyed he would want to keep them and it would pay for him to keep his bills paid
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