MACo Policy Associate, Kevin Kinnally, provided testimony in support with amendments of Senate Bill 466, “Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System – Revisions (Carl Henn’s Law),” before the Senate Finance Committee on February 14, 2017.
SB 466 would enhance public safety communications in Maryland and in our local communities by ensuring a smooth transition to a highly effective, coordinated Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system.
From the MACo testimony,
Maryland’s 9-1-1 system enables the public to place voice calls requesting emergency assistance. This is an important and reliable service that saves lives, but it has serious limitations. The vision of a NG911 system is to enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol based networks. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.
The transition to NG911 cannot be achieved without significant funding to upgrade our existing 9-1-1 equipment and communications systems, which are already under-funded through existing user fees. SB 466 would conform Maryland’s fee structure to that of virtually every other state, and would provide an additional revenue source to offset 9-1-1 operational costs and for the transition to NG911.
County government officials also testified on the importance of taking steps to strengthen our public safety communications system. Representatives from local 9-1-1 call centers, local police, and local emergency management agencies testified in support of the bill.
Carl Henn was a Rockville resident who was struck by lightning at King Farm Park in 2010. Witnesses were unable to reach 9-1-1 due to busy signals.
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session here.