Since session ended two weeks ago I have been enjoying getting back to life as usual with my family and at the office. The hustle and bustle of session always provides an exciting atmosphere, one that I truly enjoy, but, as they say, there’s no place like home.
This session we were able to tackle several issues that will help make Indiana an even safer place for all Hoosiers to live. One of the most complex pieces of legislation we passed this year will create a statewide 911 system. The driving force behind this legislation is that the number of households across Indiana that have a landline is quickly diminishing. As technology improves many people opt only to have a cell phone. Now the state will be able to equalize the fees charged to both landline and cell phone users.
Currently in Indiana, as well as many other states, cell phone users with monthly bills are charged 50 cents and those using prepaid phones are charged 25 cents each time they purchase additional minutes. But those with landlines are charged anywhere between 39 cents and $3, depending on which county they live in. At one time, these fees were enough to cover most of the costs of Indiana’s counties to properly run their 911 systems. However times have changed and for some counties the current fees cover less than half of their costs to run the programs.
The General Assembly took action so that the emergency services we all rely on will be able to continue into the future. First, the plan will establish a new statewide 911 board to collect the fees and distribute the money to the counties. This board will have to develop a distribution system after analyzing the current spending of local 911 systems, which the counties are guaranteed to receive no less than their average fee revenue over the past three years.
I strongly support this legislation because it will help modernize our 911 emergency systems that we all rely on. Emergencies and accidents happen every day, and while we hope they won’t happen, it’s impossible to foretell when an emergency situation will occur. This legislation will not completely fix the funding issue, but it does move Indiana in the right direction to help ensure the safety of all Hoosiers.
I hope that you have been able to enjoy the unusually warm weather this spring that we’ve had this year. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation that we passed this year or about our community please contact me at H63@in.gov or by phone at 1-800-382-9842. Thank you for your continued support.