On July 9, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 291 into law. The bill modifies some provisions in House Bill 1456, which was passed last year. HB 1456 gave counties more options to fund 911 services by allowing a small monthly 911 fee on wireless devices, subject to voter approval. The bill also created a statewide pool, supported by a three percent surcharge on prepaid wireless phone services, to fund improvements in counties that do not have up-to-date 911 systems.
This year, with strong bipartisan support, the General Assembly passed SB 291 to clarify administrative processes and ensure that HB 1456 will be implemented as intended. The new legislation:
- Modifies definitions for prepaid transactions that reflect model language used by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
- Clarifies that in counties that already collect a 911 sales tax, the purchase of prepaid services in that county will be exempt from that sales tax; the 3% surcharge will be applied instead.
- Provides the Department of Revenue with explicit authority to administer, collect, enforce the prepaid service charge.
- Requires the 911 Service Board to set the rate of the 911 prepaid fees returned to the county by a specified date each year and gives the board the authority needed to remit these funds back to the counties.
- Clarifies the rule-making authority of the 911 Service Board and requires the Board to establish an annual budget, retain fiscal records, and post records and meeting minutes online.
- Allows counties that opted out of the prepaid surcharge because of initial confusion about these transactions to opt back in and receive the benefits that come with participation.
- Extends the sunset on the collection of the prepaid surcharge by one year.
- Adds an emergency clause requested by the Senate Commerce Committee after members agreed that telecommunication companies and the Department of Revenue need clarification as soon as possible so they can implement HB 1456 legislation properly.
Together, HB 1456 and SB 291 will create a stable funding source for 911 systems, now and in the future, and enhance public safety across state.
MARC serves as the coordinating agency for the Kansas City regional 911 system, which handles about 1.6 million emergency calls each year. Costs for the system are shared by member counties on a per capita basis.