SALEM — Two representatives from Eastern Oregon, Rep. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, will be serving on the Oregon’s Legislative Emergency Board, by appointment of House Speaker Tina Kotek, according to announcements from both their offices.

The Emergency Board provides emergency funds and handles other budgetary items while the Legislature is not in session.

House Bill 2449, of which they were both sponsors, was one of the last pieces of legislation passed during the last day of the session Sunday.

The bill increases the 911 surcharge from $0.75 to $1 per month for wireless and wired telephone accounts and prepaid wireless retail transactions during 2020. In 2021, the tax will rise again from $1 to $1.25 per month.

“The passage of HB 2449 in the Oregon State Senate is a monumental victory for our 9-1-1 system,” Findley stated in a news release. “This surcharge has not been increased for 25 years, and has left our public safety answering points severely underfunded and unable to keep up with important technological advancements such as increased integration for text-to-911 or advanced call routing in the event of disasters or for Amber Alerts.”

The bill is now headed to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk for her to sign.

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Larry Meyer is a reporter for the Argus Observer.

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