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Bonifas

Next Gen 911: On hold for the holidays?

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Next Generation 911 is on hold, but don’t blink. It will return, if not tomorrow or next week, then when Congress reconvenes in 2012.

The provision, which was attached to H.R. 3630—“The Middle Class Tax Relief, Job Creation and Let’s Beat Santa Home Act of 2011”—was removed from the version of the legislation that made it through the Senate last weekend.

But it wasn’t removed because senators didn’t like it, according to Bob Bonifas, who has lobbied on Capitol Hill in an effort to change language in the bill that could harm the alarm industry. It was removed to simplify the bill so that extending the Social Security payroll tax cut could make it through both houses.

“They didn’t even bring it up,” Bonifas said. “Rather than deal with it, they just cut the NG 911 … out of it and sent the raw part back to the House.”

The raw part still awaits cooking as I write this, since the GOP leadership in House has refused to bring the Senate-approved bill to a vote. Will 160 million Americans get to keep their payroll tax break, or will it expire? There’s more to the standoff than that, but I won’t get into the particulars. Life’s short and besides, there’s still holiday shopping to do.

The action and inaction effectively kick the can down the road to 2012, unless something changes soon and the House decides to put NG 911 back into play before Jan. 1. But it will be back, eventually. And when it returns, Bonifas wanted to make something clear: The alarm industry supports it. It just wants language in the bill changed to prevent an unintended consequence: permitting unverified data—automated burglar, fire and PERS alarms—to flow into PSAPs.

“We’re not trying to oppose anything that would jeopardize (NG 911),” he said. “We’re not trying to blow up this bill; we’re trying to tweak a minor error in it.”