Senate Committee Passes Equitable 9-1-1 Legislation

Legislation to extend the 9-1-1 surcharge to prepaid phone services was voted favorable in the Senate Finance Committee after a hearing earlier this week.  SB 745, sponsored by the Chair of the Committee, Senator Middleton, has been supported by MACo for the past two years.  From MACo’s testimony:

The State’s emergency number system (commonly known as the “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. Maryland has had a comprehensive 9-1-1 system in place since 1985, and since 2005, all counties have enhanced their systems to accept wireless calls and provide the call center with the caller’s location/address and phone number. Operational expenses and system enhancements are supported through a monthly State and local one-dollar charge assessed per bill for land line and wireless telecommunication services. Revenue collected through this fee offsets approximately 40% of operational costs associated with managing an emergency call center. The remaining 60% is funded through other county revenues.

Just like the revenue from the existing surcharge, 75% will go to counties for costs associated with maintenance and operations of local 911 systems and 25% will go to the enhancement fund administered by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.  It is anticipated that this additional surcharge will bring in approximately $3 million to $4 million.