A Wednesday vote of the Maryland Senate saw legislation (Senate Bill 339) to upgrade and modernize the Maryland 9-1-1 system pass with a broad bipartisan majority. The legislation sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan (D- District 17) is a key and recurring priority for the Montgomery County Senator.
According to independent analysis from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the legislation aims to enhance and alter the regulatory framework of the State 9-1-1 system and to expand the responsibilities of the Emergency Number System’s Board.
The Maryland Emergency Number System’s Board was created in 1979 and is currently tasked with the installation and enhancement of county 9-1-1 emergency telephone number services systems throughout the State. This legislation expands the scope of the responsibilities of the Board to include establishing cyber-security oversight for county systems, establishing personnel training standards for counties, and establishing minimum standards for records retention. The bill also expands the purpose of the State 9-1-1 Trust Fund and modifies related state and local fees.
The legislation was introduced per the advisement of the independent Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. That Commission was created by legislation passed in the 2018 legislative session and designed to better study the advancement necessities of Maryland’s 9-1-1 system framework.
Citing the critical nature of the legislative, Senator Kagan noted in a February 22nd legislative update: “Most 9-1-1 technology is based on the phone systems over 51 years old. Nobody would use a computer or television built in 1968. Our phones are vastly different from the rotary dial landlines we had then. It is time to modernize this crucial public safety equipment to the world of 2019.”
Senator Kagan is joined in broad bipartisan co-sponsorship of the legislation by forty-four Senate colleagues including Senators Augustine (D- District 47), Bailey (R- District 29), Beidle (D- District 32), Benson (D – District 24), Carozza (R- District 38), Carter (D- District 41), Cassilly (R- District 34), Eckardt (R- District 37), Edwards (R- District 1), Elfreth (D- District 30), Ellis (D- District 28), Feldman (D- District 15), Ferguson (D- District 46), Gallion (R- District 35), Griffith (D- District 25), Guzzone (D- District 13), Hayes (D- District 40), Hershey (R- District 36), Hester (D- District 9), Jennings (R- District 7), Kelley (D- District 10), King (D- District 39), Klausmeier (D- District 8), Kramer (D- District 19), Lam (D-District 12), Lee (D- District 16), McCray (D- District 45), Miller (D- District 27), Nathan-Pulliam (D- District 44), Patterson (D- District 26), Peters (D- District 23), Pinsky (D- District 22), Ready (R- District 5), Reilly (R- District 33), Rosapepe (D- District 21), Salling (R- District 6), Serafini (R- District 2), Smith (D- District 20), Waldstreicher (D- District 18), Washington (D- District 43), West (R- District 42), Young (D- District 3), Zirkin (D- District 11), and Zucker (D-District 14).
The legislation now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration. Senate Bill 339 is cross-filed with House Bill 397 which is sponsored by Delegate Susan Krebs (R- District 5). House Bill 397 was heard before the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 26th. Both Senate Bill 339 and House Bill 397 now await consideration by the House of Delegates and no further hearing information is available at this time. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.