HB 714 Modifies provisions relating to emergency communications services

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -


HCS/HB 714 - This act gives the State Auditor the authority to conduct performance and fiscal audits of emergency services boards, dispatch centers, joint emergency communications entities, and the Missouri 911 Service Trust Fund.

In addition, this act adds emergency services boards to the definition of "political subdivision" for purposes of provisions of law allowing political subdivisions to cooperate with each other.

This act applies definitions relating to emergency telephone services to sections concerning central dispatch services and modifies the definition of "tariff rate".

Under current law, it is unlawful in certain counties for a person to misuse the emergency telephone service. This act makes the unlawful use provision apply to additional counties that have central dispatch services.

Under current law, the counties of Christian, Taney, and St. Francois, if they impose a county sales tax for the central dispatch of emergency services, must appoint the members of a board to oversee the money collected under the tax and the provision of emergency services in the county. In other counties, the board is elected. This act adds Stoddard County and Marion County to the list of counties that appoint the board.

This act changes the name of the Wireless Service Provider Enhanced 911 Service Fund to the Missouri 911 Service Trust Fund and repeals provisions establishing the "Wireless Service Provider Enhanced 911 Advisory Board". Definitions relating to the trust fund and 911 service fees are modified.

This act allows a county and the cities of St. Louis and Sikeston to impose, upon approval by a majority of the voters in the county or city, a monthly fee of up to $1.50 on a subscriber of a communications service enabled to contact 911, except for prepaid service, in lieu of a telephone service tax or a countywide sales tax. In order to impose a fee of more than $1, however, the city or county must receive approval from the Missouri 911 Service Board. The fee is to be paid into the Missouri 911 Service Trust Fund minus two percent of the fee, which is to go to providers and one percent of the fee, which is to be paid into the state's general revenue fund to cover the cost of collecting the fee. The Department of Revenue must remit the fees it collects to the county or city on a monthly basis.

Money in the fund may be used by the governing body of the city or county for the answering and dispatching of emergency calls.

The Department of Revenue is required to maintain a centralized database for the Missouri 911 Service Board that specifies the monthly fee or 911 tax imposed by each county and city.

This act provides that proprietary information submitted under the section allowing for the fee is only subject to subpoena or lawful court order. General information may be released or published in aggregate amounts that do not identify numbers of subscribers or revenues attributable to an individual 911 communications service provider. In addition, this act provides that no 911 communications service provider, or persons acting on behalf of a provider, shall be civilly or criminally liable for certain actions regarding a public safety answering point or for acts that result from the release of subscriber information to a governmental entity except for gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. In addition, this act provides that there is no cause of action against a provider of a communications-related service, or those acting on behalf of a provider, for providing call location information or doing a ping locate in an emergency situation that involves danger of death or serious physical injury.

Counties may not submit the fee to their voters unless the county has taken certain actions regarding the consolidation of services. In addition, there are specified requirements for third class counties that do not have a public agency that provides emergency telephone service for the county.

This act creates a prepaid wireless emergency telephone service charge, beginning January 1, 2016, on each purchase of prepaid service that is equal to 3 percent of the purchase unless the amount of service is 10 or fewer minutes or $5 or less, in which case, the seller may elect not to apply the charge.

For the month of January in 2016, the seller of prepaid service may retain 100 percent of the charges collected. Beginning February 1, 2016, the seller may retain 3 percent of the charges collected.

The Department of Revenue must deposit the charges into the Missouri 911 Service Trust Fund within 30 days of receipt but may retain up to one percent of the charges to reimburse itself for the costs of administering and collecting the charges.

Ten percent of the charges must be dedicated to the Missouri Regional Poison Information Center, up to $1 million a year.

The same liability protections that apply under the fee on 911-capable devices apply to sellers and providers of prepaid service and persons acting on behalf of them.

Under this act, any county, city, 911 board, or emergency services board may cooperate with any other county, city, 911 board, or emergency services board. In addition, two or more counties, cities, 911 districts, or emergency communications entities may create a joint emergency communications entity.

This act prohibits the establishment of a public safety answering point operation due to a separation from another public safety answering point operation without the approval of the Missouri 911 Service Board.

Two or more 911 central dispatch centers may consolidate into one dispatch center upon a majority vote of the people. The question may be placed on the ballot by a petition signed by 10 percent of the number of voters in the service area who voted for Governor in the last election, or upon the passage of resolutions by each board of directors of the existing centers. Following passage of the resolution, the county commissions must jointly meet to appoint a new seven-person board. This act defines the duties and terms of the board. In addition, this act specifies that the terms of the previous board members for the individual dispatch centers end on the 30th day following the appointment of the board for the consolidated district.

This act changes the name of the Advisory Committee for 911 Service Oversight to the Missouri 911 Service Board and reduces the membership of the board to 14 members rather than 16. This act prohibits a corporation or its affiliate from having more than one officer, employee, assign, agent, or other representative on the board.

The duties of the board are modified. The board must set the percentage rate of the prepaid service charge, within certain parameters, to be remitted to the charter and non-charter counties and the City of St. Louis.

Under this act, counties and the cities of Sikeston and St. Louis may apply for loans or grants from the board for the purpose of financing 911 communications service projects. This act establishes the procedures for distribution and repayment of the loans and grants.

This act repeals a provision regarding the liability of public safety agencies and people who give emergency instructions via 911 and a provision allowing the Office of Administration to establish a monthly 50 cent fee per wireless telephone number.

These provisions are similar to SCS/SB 409 (2015), HB 1053 (2015), HB 1573 (2014) and HB 653 (2013).

MEGHAN LUECKE


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