Lawmakers To Weigh 9-1-1 Fee For Pre-Paid Cell Phones

Dec 29, 2014

Credit Jonas Seaman / Flicker CC

In the upcoming legislative session state lawmakers will be asked to add a charge to pre-paid cellphone contracts to help pay for nine-one-one service.

Landlines, Voice Over IP and standard cell phone contracts already carry a 57 cent surcharge that pays for 9-1-1, but pre-paid cellphones, which are increasingly popular, don’t.

“More and more and more are being used, and they aren’t contributing toward 9-1-1, which benefits everybody,” says Robert Introne, the incoming chair of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee who is sponsoring the bill. Introne says he agreed to sponsor the bill "for the benefit of the debate of the issue" and not because he necessarily supports the change.

He notes previous legislative efforts to levy the fee have failed, after lobbying from retailers and mobile service providers. “Both camps said no-way are we going to do that, it’s a pain we don’t want to get involved,” Introne says, “So that’s where we stand.”

This latest effort could get a boost though: 9-1-1 is facing a looming budget shortfall and is planning a 25 cent hike in its fees. Charging pre-paid cellphones could mean a smaller increase to the rest of consumers.