Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE ENHANCED EMERGENCY 9-1-1 PROGRAM.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill makes changes to the current prepaid wireless E 9-1-1 fee. It moves from the monthly fee for subscribers, to a 50-cent fee on each purchase of prepaid wireless telecommunications from a retailer. If a consumer purchase includes multiple prepaid services, each such individual service constitutes a retail transaction. The bill requires retailers to collect the fee. It allows retailers to keep 1% of the collected fee and remit the balance to the Department of Revenue Services to be deposited in the E 9-1-1 Telecommunications Fund.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Reuben F. Bradford, Commissioner, The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection supports SB 354 because over 70% of the 9-1-1 calls comes from wireless phones. A bank of wire lines at a business will create less 9-1-1 calls then the same number of wireless phone lines. It is also important that there is a need for an increase in the E 9-1-1 surcharge as proposed in the agency bill HB 5378.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
John Emra AT&T testified that SB 354 because it now promotes equality of paying the E 9-1-1 fee. Prepaid wireless customers in the current system would pay the fee when they would renew their service. If they did not then the fee would go uncollected. This meant loss of revenue for support of the 9-1-1 system. With this new collection system an additional $2.2 million would go into the fund that was previously not collected.
Stacey Briggs T-Mobile supports SB 354 in order to fully fund the emergency communication network. The current system for charging the prepaid wireless customers was created when there was a small number of prepaid customers. Now with an increase of prepaid customers and no easy way of collecting the fee, prepaid customers get the benefit of the 9-1-1 system without having to pay for it. SB 354 would promote equality over who pays the fee and benefit all citizens of Connecticut.
Gerard Keegan, CTIA-The Wireless Association supports SB 354 to ensure the all users of wireless service contribute to the maintenance and operation of the Connecticut 911 system. With the point-of-sale system for the E 9-1-1 fee there would be minimal additional filing responsibilities for the retailers. They would just have to show the fee on the documents they submit to the state revenue agency, much like they do with sales and use tax. SB 354 would create a fair system for collecting E 9-1-1 fees from all prepaid wireless customers.
Chief Anthony Salvatore, Chief Matthew Reed of Connecticut Police Chiefs Association supports SB 354 because it is raising revenue to support the aging 9-1-1 infrastructure. This is needed as the current funding does not currently provide the necessary resources to support the current system.
Bart Russell, Executive Director, Connecticut Council of Small Towns supports SB 354 which will promote equality among wireless users to support the E 9-1-1 system. This additional funding is critical in supporting the current system. The organization would also like to see the bill modified to allow PURA to raise the current rate in order to continue to support the E 9-1-1 system.
Bob Labanara, Senior Legislative Associate, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities supports SB 354 in order to help offset the administrative costs in maintaining the current system. This would give the system much needed funds at a time when it is in need of being upgraded.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Robert Shea, Attorney, 7-Eleven believes that the wireless providers should be in charge of submitting the fee to the state not the retailers. SB 354 is not needed because the wireless providers could just add the fee into the wholesale costs of prepaid wireless service cards. The wireless service provider could continue to send the fee to the State Treasurer as they are currently doing. This organization believes that they should just modify the current bill and not place the burden on the retail stores.
Reported by: Adam Askham