Statewide 911 system proposal advances

Lawmakers gave first-round approval March 22 to a proposal to create a statewide 911 system.

LB938, as introduced by Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion, would authorize the Nebraska Public Service Commission to plan, implement, coordinate, maintain and organize funding for a statewide system that would be capable of next-generation service. This means public safety answering points would have the ability to receive 911 calls via voice, text or video using Internet protocol.

Smith said the bill is not designed to supplant local governments’ control over 911 services but to establish a statewide framework for coordinating, managing and funding next-generation 911 service. He said the costs incurred to develop the plan would be covered by existing surcharges and not general funds.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, adopted 34-0, would require at least two public hearings on the plan. The commission would present the plan to the Legislature no later than Dec. 1, 2017, and it would be implemented sometime after July 1, 2018.

The plan would estimate the startup and ongoing costs of a statewide system and recommend the number of public safety answering points the state should maintain. The commission would ensure uniform statewide standards for technical support, training, efficiency and quality assurance at public safety answering points.

The bill also would create a fund that would be used to pay for the commission’s expenses in developing the plan, estimated to be $1.1 million in fiscal year 2016-17 and an additional $1 million in FY2017-18.

Additionally, the commission would provide an annual report to the Legislature that would assess the level of wireless 911 location accuracy compliance for wireless carriers.

Senators voted 31-0 to advance the bill to select file.

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