Barrar’s Bill Enhancing Public Safety and Removing Financial Burden from 911 Centers Signed into Law
6/29/2015
HARRISBURG – In a culmination of two and a half years of research and meetings led by Chairman of House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), today Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation into law sponsored by Barrar to update and enhance the Commonwealth’s 911 emergency communications law.

“Dialing 911 is where emergency response starts; providing this service is a core responsibility of our local governments,” Barrar said. “The legislation brings fiscal stability and greater financial accountability to our county 911 centers. It will greatly enhance the public safety of residents across the Commonwealth.”

House Bill 911, now Act 12, focuses on enabling 911 centers to provide critical emergency services to the community as quickly as possible and via a host of new communication methods including texting, calls from video, non-human (e.g. OnStar) calls and calls from non-specific devices, such as an iPad. The implementation of NG-911 technology going forward is made possible as a result of an updated 911 surcharge.

In addition to allowing for the implementation of new technology, the increased surcharge will also lessen the financial burden 911 centers face as a result of increasing expenses of communications equipment and rising personnel costs. Without these changes, longer wait times would have resulted for residents who need life-saving attention from emergency responders.

This is the first time the surcharge has been updated since 1990. The surcharge, which is uniform across all types of two-way communication devices capable of contacting a 911 center as authorized by the FCC—including tablets with phone plans—will be $1.65 per month. This reflects a nominal 15-cent increase from the current maximum monthly surcharge allowed under state law.

The updated surcharge is expected to generate $314 million and $326 million annually for the Commonwealth’s 911 systems. These funds will be distributed to the counties on a quarterly basis, which will allow the counties to more efficiently budget for 911 purposes.

The House removed language inserted by the Senate that added an optional $52 annual local tax when the legislation was returned to the House.

“I would like to thank the many people who have contributed to the passage of this bill,” Barrar said. “The committee members and numerous stakeholder groups have dedicated countless hours to this project. As a result of their efforts and the support of both the House and Senate members, we were able to protect our 911 centers before the previous law expired.”

Without the passage of House Bill 911, county 911 centers would have become responsible for their own funding if the current law was allowed to expire on June 30 without the necessary changes that were made.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206
aevans@pahousegop.com
SteveBarrar.com / Facebook.com/RepBarrar
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