Committee approves two bills extending 9-1-1 Law and codifying Civil Air Patrol operations
HARRISBURG – Today Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland and York), Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, convened the first meeting of the committee for the 2019-2020 legislative session. Two measures were approved – one to extend the state’s 9-1-1 Law for an additional two years and another to codify the role of the Civil Air Patrol into state law.
Senate Bill 127, sponsored by Senator Regan and Committee Minority Chair Senator Lindsay Williams, would extend the 9-1-1 Law until June 30, 2021. It is currently set to expire on June 30, 2019. The legislation would also set up a process for future reauthorizations, calling on the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to study and make recommendations. Furthermore, the bill would enhance the 9-1-1 Advisory Board by adding the State Fire Commissioner and the Chairman of the State Geospatial Coordinating Board as voting members and the Ambulance Association of PA and the PA Council of Governments as non-voting members. Finally, the legislation would authorize PEMA to purchase a system to allow individuals with disabilities to be able to have their disabilities associated with a phone number, so that when they call 9-1-1, the operator will be able to assess a situation more quickly.
“9-1-1 is the backbone of our emergency response system,” said Regan, a former U.S. Marshal. “When a person calls 9-1-1, they are at their most vulnerable. As such, we need to ensure that our 9-1-1 System is fully capable of handling calls from any type of communications device and be able to dispatch a first responder as expeditiously as possible.”
Since the last update to the law in 2015, PEMA has utilized the 9-1-1 Advisory Board to accomplish a great deal, including standardizing what is considered a “Call,” setting funding priorities, and establishing minimum training and certification requirements for 9-1-1 operators. In 2014, state 9-1-1 Funds covered only 65% of county 911 operations, while in 2017, 88% of county 9-1-1 operations were funded.
“This law has been working well, therefore only minor updates are planned at this time,” said Regan.
Senate Bill 128, also introduced by Senator Regan and Senator Williams, would codify the Civil Air Patrol’s state operations in Title 51 under the leadership of the Adjutant General.
“The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, often flies under the radar with its mission, which is to assist Pennsylvania’s emergency responders with search and rescue, disaster relief support, homeland security, emergency transport services, and communications support,” said Regan. “This legislation will help solidify their role in state government.”
SB 127 and SB 128 now go to the full Senate for consideration.
For a link to the video from the meeting, click HERE.
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