House passes Kari’s Law amendment, legislation sent to President Trump for final signature
Happy birthday, Kari.
U.S. House members early this morning unanimously approved an amendment to Kari’s Law legislation—a measure that would require direct dialing for 911 calls made on multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) frequently used by hotels, offices and other enterprises—that awaits President Donald Trump’s signature to become law.
The late Kari Hunt—the namesake of the legislation—would have celebrated her 36th birthday today.
House members executed a voice vote on the amendment during early-morning proceedings that were conducted as the legislative body deliberated over a budget deal to end a short-lived government shutdown. The amendment to alter the effective date of the legislation was introduced early this week by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) when the Senate unanimously approved H.R. 582, the Kari’s Law bill sponsored by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas).
Although the House passed H.R. 582 more than a year ago, it had to approve the Senate amendment to send the Kari’s Law measure to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign the legislation into law. Sources close to the situation were unsure of the timetable for the signing to occur.
The legislation would mandate that 911 callers be able to dial the emergency number directly, instead of having to include an additional number or code. On some MLTS, callers must dial an additional number—often “9”—to get an outside line to make a normal phone call, so a 911 call would require the caller to dial “9-911.”
Under the legislation, all MLTS deployments completed after two years of the measure’s enactment would have to be preconfigured to enable direct 911 dialing. Although the proposed federal legislation would address only a MLTS that is “manufactured, imported, offered for first sale or lease, first sold or leased, or installed” two years after the legislation becomes law, the potential impact is much broader, according to Mark Fletcher, a leading advocate for Kari’s Law measures and Avaya’s chief architect.
“I think that this sets a very important precedent, regardless of the applicability to existing systems, because it raises the level of awareness,” Fletcher said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “So, if you have the ability [to allow MLTS direct dialing to 911] and you don’t implement it, you’re really operating at your own peril.”
The namesake of the bill is Kari Hunt, whose estranged husband murdered her in a Texas hotel room in December 2013. While the murder took place, Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried calling 911 four times. Because the youngster didn’t know that the hotel required a prefix to be dialed to get an outside line, none of the calls never were received by a public-safety answering point (PSAP).
Since then, Hank Hunt—Kari’s father—has worked to get laws passed at the local, state and federal levels that are designed to ensure that MLTS systems allow direct dialing to 911.
With only minimal financial impact on enterprises that have a MLTS—most allow for direct dialing to 911 today, if settings are configured properly—various iterations of “Kari’s Law” almost always have passed with unanimous or near-unanimous votes in at least six states and several local jurisdictions, Fletcher said.