The problem is straightforward: 911 is a vital service that saves life and limb. We have come to take it for granted. It is paid for through a tax on your phone bill, that is, your landline bill.

The problem is straightforward: 911 is a vital service that saves life and limb. We have come to take it for granted. It is paid for through a tax on your phone bill, that is, your landline bill.

More and more people are abandoning their landlines, and – in Missouri only – there is no corresponding fee on cell phone bills. Still, according to the Mid-America Regional Council, emergency dispatchers handle 2 million 911 calls every year in the metro area, even as the resources to handle those calls are declining.

That agency on Tuesday again went on record as supporting a change to that. Let the voters broaden the fee to include all communication devices, including cell phones, landlines and voice-over-Internet protocol.

This is an issue the Missouri General Assembly should resolve when it gathers in January for its 2012 session. This is a basic service. The world has shifted, affecting the funding source. Policies need to shift to reflect that.