Reclassification Bill gets passed by U.S. House
On July 12th, the 911 Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services Act of 2019, otherwise known as the 911SAVES Act was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. The act will help further efforts to reclassify 9-1-1 professionals as protective service class workers. The bill is actively being monitored by PSAP professionals across the country. After the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) denial to reclassify Public Safety Telecommunicators in 2017, it is hoped that this bill will rectify this oversight. The PSAP community has always held the position that the important work performed by its professionals speaks for itself in justifying reclassification.
Representative Norma Torres (CA-35) introduced the 911SAVES Act in March to direct the OMB to update their classification for public safety telecommunicators as a protective service within the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. This system is primarily used for at the federal level for statistical purposes. However, many government program managers, labor relations representatives and human resource managers utilize the SOC as a basis for defining job requirements and setting salary scales for workers.
Prior to Rep. Torres’ time in Congress, she spent more than 17 years working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. She is a member of the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus and had previously introduced the Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 Act of 2017 to strengthen federal efforts to help state and local governments to transition to NG911 technology by providing new funding, technical assistance and training.
After more than 17 years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, I know firsthand the challenges our public safety dispatchers face, the stress they are put under, and the critical importance of their work. Without dispatchers, law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs wouldn’t be able to do their jobsRepresentative Norma Torres
Next Step – U.S. Senate
The bill will now move on to the Senate where it will face another set of challenges. The 911SAVES Act was one of many progressive bills that was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act (NADA) for Fiscal Year 2020. The NADA is the appropriations bill that is used to specify the annual budget and expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense. Does this bill appropriate any funding towards 9-1-1 systems or operations? The answer is no. However, it does mean that the 911SAVES legislation essentially becomes a rider on the main bill, with its success contingent upon the success of the appropriations bill. Riders are generally not germane to the primary bill they are attached. However, they are a common practice with legislators in order to gain support for appropriations bills by adding other priorities that are more attractive that legislators would like to see passed.
The U.S. Senate has already passed their version of the NADA. The task for the Senate will be to reconcile the differences between the House’s version with the previously passed Senate bill. The Senate passed its version last month without any of the riders that are in the House version, potentially complicating negotiations on the final bill.
Continued Call to Action
What can PSAP professionals do to help ensure that the 911SAVES Act gets passed?
- Keep advocating with your legislators to impress the importance of passing this legislation.
- Are your legislators a member of the Next Gen 9-1-1 Caucus? Visit the NG9-1-1 Institute page to find out. If you do not see your legislators, then reach out to their office and ask them to join.
- Educate your friends and family on the importance of this legislation so that they may help advocate for the industry as well. Networking with others will exponentially increase the visibility of this important issue.
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