Representative Cutter, bill sponsor, introduced and spoke on SB21-154. The bill creates the 988 Crisis Hotline Enterprise (the enterprise) in the Department of Human Services (DHS). The enterprise will be governed by a board of directors appointed by the governor. The enterprise must:
- impose a 988 surcharge and a prepaid wireless 988 charge;
- fund the 988 crisis hotline;
- work with third parties to provide crisis outreach, stabilization, and acute care;
- authorize and issue revenue bonds payable from the newly created 988 Crisis Hotline Cash Fund; and
- adopt, amend, or repeal policies to regulate its affairs.
988 Crisis Hotline. By July 1, 2022, the enterprise must fund a nonprofit to provide intervention services and crisis care coordination for individuals calling 988. The nonprofit must:
- have an active agreement with the national 988 hotline;
- meet national suicide lifeline requirement guidelines;
- deploy mobile response units and co-responder programs; and
- coordinate access to walk-in centers; and provide follow up services.
The enterprise must also collaborate with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line for consistent public messaging. The enterprise must work with the state’s 988 planning committee to determine how the 988 crisis hotline will interact with the existing crisis hotline in the DHS. Beginning January 1, 2023, the DHS must report on the usage of the 988 crisis hotline and the services provided to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and information on expenditures from the cash fund to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Finally, the DHS will include reporting on the 988 Crisis Hotline Center in its SMART Act hearings.
988 Cash Fund and surcharges. The bill creates the 988 Crisis Hotline Cash Fund. The fund will contain money from a surcharge imposed on phone service users and a charge on prepaid wireless phones. The 988 phone service surcharge must be set by the enterprise in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by October 1, 2021, and calculated based on the cost of the services received by telephone service users. The surcharge takes effect January 1, 2022. In addition, the enterprise in collaboration with the PUC must set a Prepaid Wireless 988 Charge by October 1, 2021, on reach retail transaction for a prepaid wireless phone. The charge takes effect January 1, 2022, and cannot exceed $0.30 per transaction. The amount of the charge must be calculated to meet the needs of the enterprise. The enterprise and the PUC will update the fee annually.