*** UPDATE *** The bill passed with 81 votes, so a whole lot of House Republicans broke with Gov. Rauner.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* Fox St. Louis from May 26th…
Over 200,000 911 calls come into St. Clair County dispatch centers every year, according to Herb Simmons, the executive director of the Emergency Telephone System Board of St. Clair County.
Simmons said the legislation that currently funds the 911 systems is set to expire on June 30, meaning on July 1 people in Illinois could be without a 911 system.
Simmons said if the bill expires, call centers would be left without money for basic operations like electricity and the phone bill.
Although the 911 bill doesn’t expire until the end of June, the legislative session ends May 31, so lawmakers have to come up with something before they leave Springfield on Wednesday.
“I just hope somebody can come to their senses and say the state of Illinois has to have a 911 system up and operating at its full capacity because when people need it they deserve it,” Simmons said.
* Instead of just simply extending the sunset date, the House Democrats combined it with increased mobile phone taxes and AT&T’s bill to get out of the state mandate to provide old-style copper wire service. The tax in Chicago would rise from $3.90 to $5 per phone. Everyone else’s bills would rise increase to $1.50 from 87 cents.
The governor was not amused…
Emergency dispatchers, phone companies, and lawmakers from both parties were in agreement. The fee on cell phone bills needed to increase — to keep 911 services going and to add new technology mandated by Illinois.
Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, says he was not part of the talks, but he was ready to lend his support when talks broke down.
“My understanding of where it bogged down was this notion that there were perhaps disagreement between the City of Chicago and others,” Hays said.
Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, says the “others” was the governor’s office — and industry members in the negotiations say that was indeed the reason the agreement disappeared.
The nixed deal involved letting Chicago increase its fee per phone from $3.90 to $5. All other cell phone bills in the state would see an increase of $1.50 from 87 cents.
“Evidently the way I’m understanding is that the governor pretty much pulled the Republicans and said ‘We don’t want to give Mayor Emanuel any more money,’” Phelps said.
Phelps is right. That’s what happened.
But by yesterday afternoon the Democrats decided to go ahead anyway and moved an amendment out of the Executive Committee with the AT&T language, the 911 sunset date extension and the tax hikes. Two Republicans voted with the Democrats, Hays and Rep. Reis.