Annapolis, MD: Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-D/17) will present testimony tomorrow on three bills that will address issues related to updating Maryland’s 9-1-1 system. Two others (SB285 to establish a Commission to study the issues related to Next Generation 9-1-1; and SB1054, which would update our Public Information Act to shield “gory and gruesome” photos and videos) have already been heard.
- SB1051 will close the funding loophole that has left counties underfunded — even before the critical technology updates. While the number of people who call 9-1-1 has skyrocketed, county revenues to pay for services have remained flat or even decreased. In 2016 (the most recent data available) the county share of 9-1-1 fees covered an average of only 39% of operating costs. We need to close the loophole to move forward with NextGen9-1-1.
- SB1052 will ensure that taxpayer money is well-spent by requiring reports on performance and reliability standards before applying for funding from the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB). It will help us measure the success of our investments.
- SB1053 recognizes the difficult, demanding, and harrowing work done by our “First First Responders.” It will make 9-1-1 calltakers eligible for additional benefits, at each county’s discretion. The people who answer in an emergency are the life-saving link between people in crisis and help. They are too often underpaid and undervalued. We need to recognize their valuable contribution to our public safety in order to strengthen our efforts at recruitment and retention for these stressful jobs.