Updated 9-1-1 law comes with surcharge hike

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation into law on Monday, June 29, to update and enhance Pennsylvania's 9-1-1 emergency communications law, said a press release from State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160.

The legislation, sponsored by Barrar, brings fiscal stability and greater financial accountability to county 9-1-1 centers, which initiate an emergency response after someone dials 9-1-1. The law will greatly enhance the public safety of residents across the state, the release said.

House Bill 911, now Act 12, focuses on enabling 9-1-1 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 9-1-1 surcharge.

The new law will generate a surcharge increase, the first since 1990. The surcharge, which is uniform across all types of two-way communication devices capable of contacting a 9-1-1 center as authorized by the FCC—including tablets with phone plans—will be $1.65 per month. This reflects a 15-cent increase from the current maximum monthly surcharge allowed under state law, the release said.

Without the passage of House Bill 911, county 9-1-1 centers would have become responsible for their own funding if the current law were allowed to expire on June 30 without the necessary changes that were made, the release said.

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