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Minutes for HB2084 - Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications

Short Title

Amending the Kansas 911 act.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 5, 2019

Chair Seiwert opened the hearing.  Nick Myers, Assistant Revisor of Statutes gave a brief of the bill. (Attachment 1) He stood for questions.

Proponent testimony was presented by Scott Ekberg, NG911 Administrator, Kansas 911 Coordinating Council. (Attachment 2)  He indicated the passage of HB2804 will continue the legislative vision of statewide NG911 (Next Generation 911) and the system would be enhanced.  Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP's) will receive the money they need for maintaining and upgrading ancillary system equipment and providing personnel training.  The Kansas NG911 will be on firm financial footing that will carry the Council and Kansas PSAPs into the future for the next five years, and perhaps the next 10 years.  Without passage of the increased fee, by 2020, the Kansas NG911 System cannot financially afford to continue operations.  Migration to full NG911 will have to be suspended and the system remain stagnant.  Approximately $4 million in additional funding will be needed annually to bridge the shortfall and will, by necessity, have to come from the PSAP workstation fee.  This will result in workstation fees having to nearly double.  PSAPs will not have sufficient 911 funds to cover these increased fees, so property taxes will have to be relied on to make up the shortfall.  Mr. Ekberg stood for questions.

Ellen Wernicke presented proponent testimony.  (Attachment 3) She stated that because Johnson County Government is part of the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) and is not part of the statewide NG911 hosted solution, they would be contributing an additional $.23 above the $.144 they currently contribute towards providing statewide equality of 911 service in the State of Kansas.  Johnson County feels strongly that this legislation should move forward to ensure the continued deployment and sustainment of the statewide NG911 hosted solution.  Johnson County is willing to be foresighted enough to share our resources with the rest of the State of Kansas to ensure we stay on the leading edge and have the ability to sustain the system that is currently in deployment.  The progress Kansas has made with NG911 as a leader in the nation should be recognized and the 2011 legislative mission should be honored.  It has enabled the state to move forward versus becoming a state of standalone systems and technology that would result in further isolation, lacks interoperability, increase costs and would put those who live, work or travel through our great state at risk.  She mentioned she thought we can agree that all of us have an expectation that no matter where we are in the state that we will receive the same level of service when we call 911 and that simply will not happen without a standardized, statewide NG911 hosted solution.  She stood for questions.

Sheriff Troy Briggs gave testimony in support of this bill.  (Attachment 4) One part thereof is a funding increase that assists smaller counties to cope with rising costs of providing fast, accurate advance 911 services.  Since its inception, smaller agencies have received an overall yearly disbursement of $50,000.  This amount has not increased since that time, while costs assuredly have increased; from equipment to connection fees, many approved expenses have risen.  The proposed increase to $60,000 is certainly welcome and hopefully it is sufficient.  It is vital at a minimum to maintain our current level of service.  This means maintaining the system as it s currently configured.  The "Now" is what the public expects and deserves.  Stepping back or moving any direction other than forward would be a lack of responsibility to the public to which we answer.  He stood for questions.

Proponent testimony was presented by Ed Klumpp.  (Attachment 5) He indicated emergency services response starts with a robust and dependable 911 system regardless of whether the source of that crisis is criminal activity, accident, fire or medical.  We should not take a step backwards in providing modern technology to enhance public safety.  In the electronic world we are in today, one of the most critical components in providing this essential public safety service is the mapping and location capabilities the new technology has given us.  The enhancements go beyond that, including the connectivity of PSAPs in an effort to provide seamless access during disasters that may affect an individual or group of PSAPs.  The passage of the bill is important to the members of the Kansas Association Chiefs of Police.  They recognize that priorities must be part of funding and policy decisions.  It is their desire to continue to assist with information needed during that process.  He stood for questions.

Written only proponent testimony was provided by Patrick Fucik, National Director, State Legislative affairs on behalf of Sprint Corporation (Attachment 6); Joshua Michaelis, Director, Rice County 911 (Attachment 7); Kenneth Nelson, Geographic Information Officer, DASC Director Kansas Geological Survey (Attachment 8); Angela Murphy, Director Allen County Emergency Communications and Emergency Management (Attachment 9); Ellen Wernicke, President, Kansas Chapter Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (Attachment 10); Don Gruver, President, Kansas Chapter National Emergency Number Association and Director, Harvey County Communications (9-1-1) (Attachment 11).  Chair Seiwert closed Proponent portion

John Idoux presented Neutral testimony to the bill.  (Attachment 12) He indicated that CenturyLink has not taken a position with the underlying issues addressed in the bill; however, they suggest this is an important discussion to have.  Today's 911 is not your grandparents' 911 where every household and business had a landline phone from the monopoly phone company and all physical addresses were known.  Today, multiple companies provide comprehensive communications services using multiple technologies.  Mobile wireless, text to 911, number porting, satellite phone and internet services all make today's emergency communications systems look like child's play compared to just a few years ago, and the companies that make up the overall emergency communications ecosystems are just as diverse.  CenturyLink suggested the liability portion of the Kansas 911 Act be updated and noted at least 31 other states have updated the 911 liability protection language in statute.  He stood for questions.

Written only neutral testimony was provided by Mike Scott, AT&T Kansas (Attachment 13); Dennis Kriesel, Interim Executive Director, Kansas Association of Counties (Attachment 14); and Erik Satorius, Executive Director, The League of Kansas Municipalities (Attachment 15).  The Chair closed the Neutral Portion.

There was no Opponent testimony offered.  Chair Seiwert closed the Opponent portion and subsequently closed the hearing.  Meeting adjourned at 10:17 am.