Press Release: 9-1-1 Omnibus Bill Hearing Tomorrow

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)

9-1-1 Commission’s Omnibus Bill Hearing Tomorrow

Annapolis, MD: A 29-member Commission chaired by Sen. Cheryl Kagan has been working for two years to improve our public safety system as Maryland transitions to “Next Generation 9-1-1” in order to save lives. Last year, Kagan enacted three new laws that earned national recognition for their comprehensive attention to funding, staffing, cybersecurity, oversight, and more.
This year, six bills were introduced based on the 25 Commission recommendations contained in the 63-page report released in December. Tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee will hear the Omnibus bill (SB 838/HB934) that encompasses the bulk of the recommendations, including:
  • Increase the investment into our “First First Responders” or 9-1-1 Specialists. Provide direct access to health and wellness services for PSAP employees due to the cumulative impact of chronic exposure to traumatic events;
  • Create a statewide Telecommunicator Emergency Response Team (TERT) that is specially trained to assist other counties after disasters or crises; 
  • Clarify that 9-1-1 fee revenues may only be distributed to the PSAPs (9-1-1 Centers) that are located in each of our 24 counties;
  • Require accountability and a repayment plan if a jurisdiction spends its 9-1-1 funds on any item not directly related to public safety;
  • Rename and alter the membership of the Emergency Numbers Systems Board to more accurately reflect its enhanced role;
  • Establish standards for continuing education of 9-1-1 Specialists during annual PSAP inspections;
  • Ensure compliance and enforcement of Kari’s Law (dialing 9-1-1 without a prefix from any location– including hotels and office buildings);
  • Continue to invest in improved software so as to locate cell phone callers;
  • Coordinate and fund a statewide public education and communications campaign related to NG911 implementation, including text-to-9-1-1.
WHAT: Hearing on SB838– Omnibus 9-1-1 legislation
WHEN: Tuesday, March 10, 2020  1pm
WHERE: Senate Finance Committee, Annapolis, Maryland 
WHO: Witnesses will be sponsor Sen. Kagan and other NG911 Commissioners (including
9-1-1 Center directors, telecommunications and agency representatives)
Kagan stressed the importance of the Commission. “One of the most essential services government provides is public safety. Our 9-1-1 system is literally a matter of life and death. Marylanders must know that it is reliable and accessible in their time of crisis.”
According to national 9-1-1 expert and Commission Vice Chair Steve Souder, “Maryland is at the cutting-edge of updating our laws for Next Generation 9-1-1. Other states are looking to our Commission for model legislation such as SB838.”

Three people have died in Senator Kagan’s legislative district when 9-1-1 failed, inspiring her commitment on these issues. This year’s proposals build on the staffing, funding, cybersecurity, privacy, and oversight measures enacted last year. What was once an emergency system built around landline telephones is evolving into a multimedia voice, text, and video Internet Protocol (IP) system. The Commission was established to facilitate the transition to NG911 statewide. The first year’s recommendations were drafted into three new laws. The biggest, “Carl Henn’s Law,” modified the funding structure; updated our technology; acknowledged cybersecurity threats; addressed our recruiting and retention challenges; and added more oversight and accountability. In addition, the new laws improved benefits for 9-1-1 Specialists and offered a measure of privacy for crime victims. 


About Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan

Senator Kagan (D-District 17) is in her second term representing Gaithersburg and Rockville. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Kagan has earned a reputation as an independent-minded legislator with a strong voice for her constituents on public safety, consumer protection, election reform, and more. Kagan is active on social media and can be found on Facebook at Sen. Cheryl Kagan, on Twitter at @CherylKagan, and on Instagram at @CherylCKagan.