The Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) governs 911 service in Texas and provides the service in rural areas. In its Staff Report, the Sunset Commission recently recommended that: (1) the CSEC should continue to operate for the next twelve years; (2) the commission should be authorized to develop, implement, and manage an interconnected state-level 911 network; and (3) the commission should be required to establish an advisory committee for the development, implementation, and management of the state’s 911 system.

Currently, the commission provides the delivery of 911 calls to public safety answering centers in rural areas. The CSEC does not answer or dispatch calls. The commission contracts with the 24 Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) to provide 911 service to rural areas covering about one-third of the Texas population. Emergency communications districts and municipal emergency communications districts provide service to the rest of the state.

The Sunset Commission’s recommendation is that the CSEC be given statewide authority to coordinate the current 911 system and develop and implement an interconnected 911 network. The Sunset report seeks to have the legislature “clarify” its intent to recognize the commission as the “state’s authority on emergency communications”. These recommendations could, TML staff believes, lead to mandatory regulation of all 911 communications providers. If mandatory regulation by the commission were implemented, it would affect the way cities provide 911 service to their citizens.

The report also recommends the establishment of an advisory committee for the development, implementation, and management of a new 911 network that would allow access through text messages, images, video, and data to the 911 network. Expanding technology that could contact 911 could be beneficial to all entities that provide 911 service.

Finally, the Sunset report recommends that the commission develop a policy allowing for negotiated rulemaking and alternative dispute resolution so that more interested individuals and entities can be involved in rulemakings.

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