Sunday, February 19, 2012

Legislative Update HB 2382

House Bill 2382 the Ambulance Service Districts Act.
Update: The Emergency Medical Service District Act is dead for this session.  This bill received strong opposition from Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and Oklahoma Gas and Electric.  With this opposition Rep. Cockroft and Rodney Johnson director of Medic Institute did not think we had the votes to pass this bill.  We are going to try to hold a legislative study to address local funding for EMS. We think this is the best way to keep this issue alive.
John D Harper, Vice President, External Affairs for Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Kenny Sparks, Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs for the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives have told Medic Institute they understand the issue and would like to help us find a solution to the problem. While we disagree with them on the issue of a utility fee for EMS we also understand their problem with the bill. We look forward to working with them to protect the people of Oklahoma. 

 This is a local EMS funding bill. It would allow cities, towns and counties build and establish a stable EMS system with local control. This bill would permit the establishment of an Ambulance District with workable options of spreading the cost across all populations of the district. The cities, towns and counties will support the district according to the populations or households in their jurisdiction.

The bill allows flexibility in structure of the districts to meet the needs of diverse areas of Oklahoma. It also has flexibility in funding; Counties are caped at a 2% sales tax. In this bill the Counties could go above the 2% for ambulance services. Counties, cities and towns could sale subscriptions, bill for service and use utility fees. They could not add a new ad valorem tax (property tax). They could however use one that is already in place. All funding would require a vote of the people. The district also has the option to fund from existing sources. 

The bill sets rules that have to be met to set up a district to ensure local support. A petition signed by at least 25% of registered voters in the most recent election, the territory is without adequate ambulance service to meet their needs, the installation, maintenance and operation of an ambulance service is necessary, and the service will be conducive to and will promote the public health, safety, and welfare.

This bill was written by Medic Institute and introduced by Rep. Josh Cockroft (R) of the House and Sen. Charles Wyrick (D) of the Senate. This is a longer term answer to the EMS crises with local control and local support.

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