Minnesotans Will See a New Fee on Their Phone Bills
Don't look now, but a new fee will soon be added to your phone bill here in Minnesota.
The 2023 Minnesota Legislative session passed a number of new bills which Gov. Walz has signed into law, and some of them contain some hefty increases that will be passed on to most taxpayers here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
You've likely heard about a new fee on delivery charges (for purchases over $100 and excluding food) or about yet another increase in Minnesota's already-expensive vehicle license tab fees.
One you haven't heard of though, is a new telecom fee that will be tacked onto your phone bill starting next year. It was passed as part of one of the Legislature's omnibus bills (SF 2995, in case you're curious) and will fund 988, the new national shortened suicide prevention line. That line went into service in July of 2022, and this new fee will help pay for local staffers to help staff the line here in Minnesota.
According to the CBS Minnesota story, the fee will start as a $.12 charge on your monthly phone bill and will gradually increase to $.25. While that doesn't sound like much per bill, the fee is expected to generate around $9.8 million a year across Minnesota.
The North Star State is one of only six states to implement a fee to help pay for 988, though some other states have allocated money from their state budgets, as well. And it's a move that's being applauded by mental health advocates.
Shannah Mulvihill is executive director of Mental Health Minnesota, an affiliate of Mental Health America. She told CBS Minnesota the fee will help make sure Minnesotans get the help they need when they're in crisis.
'It's about building capacity and it's really critical those get answered in the state,' Mulvihill said in the CBS Minnesota story. 'If it doesn't get answered here in Minnesota, it will get answered, but by someone else in another state at one of the backup centers that are unaware that we've developed a 24/7 mobile crisis system.'
The new fee, which is similar to an existing fee on phone bills that pays for 911 service, is set to start appearing on phone bills in Minnesota starting in January 2024.