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Hearing on proposal to change phone bill for 911

Posted at 9:55 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 23:58:10-05

The cost of safety could soon go up. A bill has been introduced to legislatures that would increase how much you pay on your phone bill.

But officials say the increase is necessary to public safety.

On every phone bill there is an E-911 charge that helps fund 911 services.

Senator Robert Hilkemann wants to raise how much Douglas County residents pay for that E911 charge.

SEE RELATED: Proposed changes to your phone bill could help 911

Currently Douglas County residents pay 50 cents on land lines, and 45 cents for cell phones. The proposal is to change that to what the rest of Nebraska pays, one dollar for a land line and up to 70 cents for a cell phone.

The bill was introduced to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in a hearing on Tuesday.

“LB43 is a bill that adds an element of fairness to the funding of these services across all Nebraska counties,” said Hilkemann.

The added funds go directly to 911 centers.

“This would allow us to purchase the technology that is coming with next generation 911,” said Douglas County 911 Director David Sleeter.

“The Douglas County Emergency Communications Center has not been able to increase its staffing levels by a single employee over the last five years,” added Sleeter.

Another supporter of the bill says it is just good policy even though some senators argue there is people in Omaha who can't afford a 50 cent increase.

“We just don't see this in other states, for the most part, at least the ones I have contacted, whatever the rate is, is broader to boarder,” said Larry Dix with Nebraska Association of County Officials.

Sleeter said upping the charge is about keep people safe, “Ultimately it isn't the 911 center that is going to get all these funds that is going to improve, and ultimately it will be the citizens of Douglas County.”

Senator Hilkemann asked the committee to move the bill to the floor to argue out.

The committee did not vote on the bill on Tuesday. They will meet for an executive session at a later time to discuss what bills will move forward.