Oklahoma Bill Modifying 911 Calls Passes the House

News 9 - March 22, 2023 6:32 am

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A bill aimed at speeding up 911 response times is heading over to the Senate for consideration. The bill would fund next generation technology that would help provide a precise location from where the 911 call was made.

House Bill 1590 was written by Representative Jim Grego (R), says it will save time and resources, and have a big impact in rural areas of the state.

“This is something that’s gonna help our people get services quicker,” said Rep. Grego. “Currently you call in, they may find you, they may not, they may dispatch you to another dispatch office, it may bounce around.”

House Bill 1590 was requested by the state’s 911 commission.

“Members, this just allows the 911 dispatch to move onto the next generation, to be more accurate and hopefully save more lives,” said Rep. Grego.

The bill would also increase the monthly 911 call fee from 75 cents to $1.25.

“The fee increase they’re asking for is necessary to get this up and running and keep it up and running, it will generate about $10 million a year,” said Rep. Grego.

Democrats questioned during debate why consumers are the ones seeing a price increase.

“The reality is- the state of Oklahoma has $4 billion in savings right now and I just have to ask the question- Why would we impose a permanent fee on consumers to pay for a one time expenditure?” asked Rep. Andy Fugate, (D) OKC.

“I would love to take it out of that $4 billion and just be done with it, but it’s not gonna happen,” said Rep. Grego.

Rep. Fugate also pointed out that the Governor vetoed using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for this technology recently.

Rep. Grego says the current 911 system was last updated in 1975, and could be in danger of collapsing.

“No matter where you are, they’re gonna know where you are immediately and dispatch the closest help to the location,” said Rep. Grego.

Rep. Grego says he did an interim study and had a lot of feedback on how this could have an impact on rural areas.

“People were coming to me that live near county lines- when they call 911 you don’t have a clue where that call is going,” said Rep. Grego. “It’s gonna do away with county lines, it’s gonna do away with zip codes, it’s gonna do with calls it’s gonna be when you call it’s gonna go to the nearest center and it’s gonna dispatch the nearest help.”

The title is off of the bill- meaning it’s still a work in progress. It passed 68-22 in the House and will now head to the Senate for consideration.

 

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