PRESS RELEASE: Groundbreaking 9-1-1 Public Safety Bills Signed
New Legislation Will Move Maryland to “Next Generation 9-1-1”
Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
(Annapolis, MD) : Earlier today, Governor Larry Hogan signed a package of three bills to update Maryland’s 9-1-1 emergency systems to pave the way for “Next Generation 9-1-1” (or NG911). Following incidents in which three people died in her district when 9-1-1 failed, Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17, Gaithersburg and Rockville), committed to work on this issue. A statewide commission she chairs released a 65-page report last December with 23 recommendations that passed unanimously. These formed the basis for the legislative proposals.
Collectively, the bills create a path to upgrade Maryland’s life-saving emergency infrastructure. New equipment and training will reduce response times; better pinpoint callers using mobile devices; and ensure that First Responders arrive with appropriate information and equipment.
According to Senator Kagan, “We pass hundreds of bills each year. It’s rare that we can say that they are literally life-or-death measures. By updating Maryland’s 9-1-1 emergency centers, countless lives will be saved through faster, more accurate responses to crises needing police, fire-rescue, or emergency medical help.”
Briefly, the three bills:
  • SB339/HB397, Carl Henn’s Law, was a major rethinking of our statewide systems. In order to ensure that all counties benefit from the new technology, it moved more of the responsibility for training and technology to the State’s Emergency Number Systems Board. The Board, in turn, will ensure that everyone in the State is covered.
  • SB284/HB1090 recognizes the stressful, critical work done by our 9-1-1 Specialists or “First, First Responders,” who are the connection between people in crisis and help.
  • SB5/HB215 ensures that victims’ privacy rights are considered in an era where one’s worst moments will be captured on video and sent to 9-1-1.

A key component of the Carl Henn bill was the adjustment to the funding model that has been in place for 16 years. Currently, an average of just 39% of the local cost of 9-1-1 is covered by the $1 monthly fee. By enacting a 25-cent fee increase, closing an existing funding loophole, and shifting more responsibility to the State, local governments will be able to more adequately fund our 9-1-1 services.

This new finance structure will not only help pay for updating our 9-1-1 systems but will allow counties to allocate limited budget resources to schools and other priorities. Michael Sanderson, Executive Director of Maryland Association of Counties, emphasized the importance of this legislation for local government, “This bill is central to what county governments deliver for their citizens. Updating our 9-1-1 system is a top priority, and today is a huge step.”

The Commission will continue its work over the next year in order to address the remaining issues involved in NG911. Members include a cross-section of 9-1-1 Center directors; technology and telecommunications industry representatives; cybersecurity experts; a bipartisan group of legislators; and other stakeholders.

The next meeting will be held on June 6, 2019 at 10am in Annapolis. As with all Commission meetings, it will be open to the public as well as live-streamed.