Justice pulls 911 fees bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice pulled his bill on wireless enhanced 911 fees Monday, amid concerns from municipal leaders about possible costs to counties.

The main concern of Senate Bill 289 was it would eliminate an increase in funds provided to counties.

Justice said in a statement there was a misunderstanding on the bill’s intended purpose.

“I have never wanted a dime taken away from our 911 centers or our counties. Much to the contrary, West Virginia was advised that we were out of compliance by the FCC due to diverting funds to non-911 related expenditures and that we were jeopardizing future FCC grants to our state. We have explored protecting all our counties and keeping them 100% whole by funding all these dollars through general revenue,” he said.

Sen. Paul Hardesty, D-Logan, were among the people asking Justice to reconsider the bill. He said if the bill became law, it would have shifted $0.34 of the current $3 fee to the state’s Public Service Commission.

“An older population, combined with a tremendous drug problem, puts added pressure on our 911 systems,” he said. “If you then factor in treacherous primary and secondary road conditions across West Virginia, which will produce more destructive motor vehicle accidents, one can clearly see the need to leave current funding to these centers alone.”

Justice said he is looking to form an exploratory committee to come up with a better solution.

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