The Iowa Senate has unanimously voted to require Iowans who buy pre-paid cell phones and pre-paid phone cards to start paying 33 cents a month to help finance emergency 911 call centers.

Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said Iowans who have land-lines and cell phone contracts currently pay a fee and it’s a matter of fairness to have those who opt for the pre-paid route contribute, too.

“Those consumers are able to make a 911 call,” Danielson said. “They should help pay for that service.”

Iowans who have a land line currently pay a $1 monthly surcharge for 911 service and the bill does not change that. Nor does it change the 65-cent per monthly 911 surcharge on cell phone bills. D

According to Danielson, 911 call centers are under tremendous pressure to keep up with the latest advances in technology.

“Public safety should be our top priority,” Danielson said, “and there’s no service more recognizable from our citizens than the ability to call 911 and get help when you need it.”

The bill also calls on the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management division to convene a task force to plan for upgrades in 911 services throughout the state. The bill must also clear the House and get the governor’s approval before it could become law.