Legislation needed to keep service operational, continue modernization
State Rep. Julie Calley today led the Michigan House in approving an important measure needed to protect and modernize the state’s 911 system.
If no changes are made, the state law authorizing 911 to operate in Michigan will expire at the end of this year. The fund that pays for the 911 network would dry up by 2024.
“Public safety is one of the core responsibilities of government,” Calley said. “If we fail to take action, we’d be shirking our responsibility and letting down every single Michigander who relies on 911 to be at the ready when an emergency occurs.”
Calley’s plan, House Bill 5026, extends the Emergency 911 Enabling Act through 2027 and makes changes to ensure funding is available to continue transitioning every county in the state to modern equipment. Next generation 911 service offers GPS location service to pinpoint the location of calls made from mobile phones, which now make up about 80 percent of the calls placed to 911. It also allows text messaging service for those who are unable to call, afraid to make noise, and people with speech or hearing impairment.
“The software and technology we have today to support the trained experts on the line is truly incredible – but it’s not free,” Calley said. “It’s absolutely essential to make sure this fund is sustainable long into the future.”
Currently, 911 services are funded by a 25-cent monthly surcharge on all cell phone and land lines. Prepaid phones are charged a 5 percent fee at the time of purchase.
Calley said the operational and maintenance costs of 911 services have remained on target with projections made in 2018, the last time the fees were re-evaluated. However, the revenue collected through service fees has fallen short – specifically the fees collected from prepaid cell phones.
House Bill 5026 makes a rate correction for prepaid cell phone lines, increasing the fees to 6 percent to make sure all users are paying their fair share. It also requires the state to conduct a review of prepaid fee revenue to determine why revenue has been lower than expected.
Additionally, Calley’s measure ensures a roll back of service fees paid by residents if future revenue comes in higher than expected.
The plan now advances to the Senate for further consideration.