Officials receptive to E911 bill

Officials receptive to E911 bill by David Lias Karen Olson, head of Vermillion's Telecommunication Department, spoke in strong opposition to HB 1292 at a meeting held in Vermillion Feb. 20.

Now that the dust is about to settle on the South Dakota Legislature's work for this year's session, her outlook has changed, however.

That's because lawmakers have drastically changed the bill from its original form.

"The original bill went to the House State Affairs Committee," she said, "and there were lots of objections to it. The bill was amended, it failed in the House and then it passed in the House (Feb. 23) when it was considered a second time."

HB 1292 calls for legislative findings and recommendations for improvements to the state's 911 emergency notification system.

The bill was unanimously approved by the House State Affairs Committee on Feb. 16.

The bill originally called for creating a system that would provide voice, data, and radio communications links to all responding agencies that deliver emergency services within South Dakota, with plans for the network to allow a public safety answering point to communicate with any emergency responder within the geographic boundaries of South Dakota.

It also called for a study of South Dakota's E911 systems. Many law enforcement, emergency response and communications officials stated opposition to the legislation, for its intent appeared to be to one day establish a single answering point for much of the state's 911 calls.

"The bill that was finally passed in the House doesn't resemble the original bill at all, which is a good thing," Olson said. "We're now looking at a state oversight of answering points, and the new bill will leave present answering points alone."

The legislation also will promote diligence in establishing high emergency communication standards.

"It calls for working on standards," Olson said, "which we were never opposed to."

The South Dakota Senate may already have made its decision on the fate of the bill. Olson said it appeared the Senate may begin its debate of the legislation on Wednesday of this week.

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