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Indiana Bill Would Raise Fees For 911 Calls

911 police dispatch

Photo: ICMA Photos (Flickr)

Calls to 911 would cost more if a bill in the General Assembly is passed. It also transfers authority for fee price setting and fund distribution to the Indiana Wireless Advisory Board.

Lawmakers are working out the details of a bill that would raise cell phone fees to help fund statewide 911 systems.

Currently, cell phone users are charged 50 cents for 911 fees, while landline fees are often much higher.The bill would raise cell phone fees to anywhere between 75 cents and a dollar.  Landline fees would be set at the same level. Prepaid cell phone users would see fees jump from 25 cents to 50 cents per payment.

The bill also puts control of the fees in the hands of the Indiana Wireless Advisory Board.

Indiana Telecommunications Association president John Koppin says that last provision is troubling because the board is composed of members recommended by both county emergency systems and wireless carriers. He says those groups stand to benefit from a price increase.

“It’s substantially skewed to the spenders as opposed to those who might constrain that spending,” Koppin says.

Buck Creek Republican Senator Brandt Hershman, the bill’s author, says the board’s authority is something the conference committee will discuss, but he thinks the board is balanced.

“Their history has been that they have been very responsible,” he says. “In fact, they have never raised a fee. They’ve lowered them.”

The legislation allows the board to raise 911 fees as much as ten cents per year. The final bill will be prepared for a vote in both chambers later this week.

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