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Relating to requiring direct access to 9-1-1 service from certain telephone systems and equivalent systems that use Internet Protocol enabled services.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 788 would require certain businesses to configure their telephone systems so that a person may dial 9-1-1 directly and without additional digits to dial “outside.” Additionally, a business that provides residential or business facilities would have to configure its telephone system to send a notification to a central location on the premises when a 9-1-1 call is placed. However, notifications must be setup only if a business has a telephone system that can do so.
The Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) may issue one-year waivers to businesses that would not be in compliance of this new legislation. The waiver could be issued if a business proves that the requirements would be cost prohibitive. However, If a business cannot comply for whatever reason, this legislation would require a business to place stickers on each of the phones that are not compliant. These stickers would need to explain to operators how to dial out before calling 9-1-1.
While the aims of SB 788 are laudable, we cannot support legislation that would create new regulations on businesses that would impose a cost to comply. In some cases, this law would be cost prohibitive, which is why it allows for a temporary exemption. However, a business that cannot afford the expense of becoming compliant would be forced to deal with the time and expense of having to renew for a one-year waiver exemption. Either way, the legislation would impose a new mandate to private business that would come with an accompanying compliance cost.
In its current form, we oppose SB 788 because it undermines the free market by levying unnecessary costs against businesses. However, we recommend amending this bill to allow the waiver exemption to be indefinite so that businesses that cannot comply immediately are not saddled with the added lost time and cost of annually submitting a waiver for exemption.
There is also a free market concern as this bill may lead businesses to upgrade their phone systems before they ordinarily would have done so in order to come into compliance. This would force businesses to make phone system upgrade decisions based on government mandates rather than based on the normal criteria they would otherwise use to make such decisions.
An indefinite waiver would not undermine the original intent of this bill; it would just allow businesses that have non compliant phones to replace them with compliant ones when they are ready to upgrade their systems. This would be less objectionable than the bill as passed out of committee.