Senate Bill 1125 — Suicide prevention hotline

Senate Bill 1125 — Suicide prevention hotline

by
Parrish Miller
February 18, 2021

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1125 connects Idaho to a national suicide hotline using the number 988, requires compliance with national standards, and imposes fees on all telephone users. 

Rating: -2

Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes or rules? Examples include citing federal code without noting as it is written on a certain date, using state resources to enforce federal law, and refusing to support and uphold the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the principles of federalism?

Senate Bill 1125 creates Chapter 97, Title 39, Idaho Code, to connect Idaho to a national suicide hotline using the number 988, which was established by a federal law known as "The national suicide hotline designation act of 2020, P.L. 116-172."

The bill defines "National suicide prevention lifeline" or "NSPL" as "a national network of local crisis centers providing free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Membership as an NSPL center requires nationally recognized certification, which includes evidence-based training for all staff and volunteers in the management of calls."

It also defines "Veterans crisis line" or "VCL" as "the crisis line maintained by the secretary of veterans affairs under 38 U.S.C. 1720F(h)."

The bill requires suicide hotline centers in Idaho to "have an active agreement with the administrator of the national suicide prevention lifeline for participation within the network" and "meet NSPL requirements and best practices guidelines for operational and clinical standards."

The bill also says the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare "shall provide primary oversight of suicide prevention and crisis service activities, shall ensure the essential coordination with each designated 988 hotline center, and shall work with the NSPL and VCL networks for the purposes of ensuring consistency of public messaging about 988 services."

Senate Bill 1125 forces Idaho's suicide hotline centers to comply with the demands of federal laws and the policies of federal and national organizations. This removes oversight from the Legislature and compels individuals and organizations in Idaho to comply with changeable standards and requirements imposed from outside the state’s borders. 

(-1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?

Senate Bill 1125 imposes "a uniform suicide and mental health crisis access fee" "on each Idaho resident who is a subscriber of commercial landline, mobile or internet protocol-enabled voice services, and interconnected voice over internet protocol service lines at a rate per month, per telephone line, by all telecommunications providers of such services."

It also says, "The fee established by this section may be adjusted as needed to provide for continuous operation, volume increases, and maintenance, but shall not exceed the amount assessed for the 911 emergency communication fee pursuant to section 31-4804, Idaho Code."

The 911 emergency communication fee is set at $1.00 by statute, yet $1.25 is charged in some instances with $0.25 being allocated to a grant fund. Some states charge considerably less (Arizona charges $0.20) while others charge much more (in some parts of West Virginia, it's $6.40.) 

The fiscal note for Senate Bill 1125 estimates a $1 per phone line per month charge will raise $20 million per year. This is likely an understatement as an FCC report detailing the total amount collected in 911 fees back in 2014 came to just under $21 million. 

At minimum, though, Senate Bill 1125 imposes a $20 million de facto tax increase on Idahoans. 

(-1)

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