OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An additional $1.25 could be added to monthly cell phone bills in order to improve the 911 dispatch technology across the state.
The bill is House Bill 1590.
Rep. Jim Grego (R-Wilburton) is the author and argued for the bill because it would pinpoint the exact location of someone’s 911 call. In turn, that would help send the nearest response crew.
“This is an effort, when you call 911 no matter where you are, they’re going to know immediately where you are and dispatch the help from the closest location,” said Grego.
He said it would help Oklahomans that border multiple counties, similar to some of his constituents.
“He’s standing on his porch watching the ambulance driving up and down, they can’t find him because he’s in Lattimore County, dispatched him out of Pittsburg County, while his son is bleeding,” said Grego, speaking about someone from his district.
Right now, consumers pay $0.75 each month for cell phone access to call 911. The cost is a few dollars extra for landlines.
This new bill would make all monthly costs $1.25, lowering it for landlines but increasing it for cell phone coverage.
Grego said the system hasn’t been improved since 1975, and after a $10 million first year cost it would take $8 million each year to maintain.
Democrats support the upgrade but question the cost.
“While I like the idea of Next Generation 911, why are we putting a new fee on constituents when we have over four billion dollars in the state coffers,” asked Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC).
The author of the bill said consumer fees are the most consistent way to pay for the system in the long term.
“My bill is permanent funding. Can you guarantee next year we have a four billion dollar surplus? Or maybe a billion in the hole,” said Grego, in response to Dollens.