MACo Associate Director Andrea Mansfield testified before the House Health and Government Operations Committee in support of HB 1145 with amendments. The proposed legislation would extend Maryland’s current 9-1-1 charge to prepaid wireless services and ensure Maryland’s 9-1-1 system is appropriately supported.
Maryland’s 9-1-1 system is an integral part of emergency communication services ensuring that emergencies are reported and personnel are dispatched in a timely manner to deal with life threatening situations. Generally, users of devices that may access the 9-1-1 system are assessed a charge to support these systems. However, the current charge does not apply to users of prepaid wireless telephone service, essentially because State law applies the charge to a monthly bill, without a clear application to one-time payments without regular monthly billing intervals. MACo believes HB 1145 outlines a reasonable approach for extending this surcharge to all individuals who benefit from these important services.
As introduced, HB 1145 did not specify the distribution of this new revenue. MACo discussed this omission with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and welcomes departmental amendments to specify the distribution as 75% to counties for costs associated with maintenance and operations and 25% to the enhancement fund administered by the Department.