UPDATE: The Kelsey Smith Act failed to pass in the House in a 229-158 vote. It required two-thirds majority to pass.
Rep. Kevin Yoder is anticipating the act being brought back to the House floor when a simple majority vote will pass it into law.
Shortly after the Kelsey Smith Act failed to get a two-thirds majority in the House, he released the following statement:
"It's clear the Kelsey Smith Act has the support of the majority of the House of Representatives. While I'm disappointed in tonight's outcome, I look forward to the bill being brought back to House floor when a simple majority vote can get it passed."
The law in action
Just last year, Lenexa police used the Kelsey Smith Act to find an infant who was in the back of a stolen car.
Dan Friesen, public information officer for Lenexa PD, said, "Within 20 minutes of when the call came out, they had the car located and the child safe."
Shortly after the news of the baby's safe return thanks to the act, Missey Smith shared how meaningful it was to her.
"That baby's alive and home because my baby isn't, and if there's any purpose in Kelsey's death, I know she's saving other lives," she said.
Nine years after Kelsey Smith's tragic disappearance, Congress is now one step closer to making the Kelsey Smith Act federal law.
This would require cell phone companies to help law enforcement determine a cell phone’s location in certain emergency situations.
Monday afternoon, the US House of Representatives will vote on the Kelsey Smith Act.
The search for Kelsey
In 2007, 18-year-old Kelsey Smith walked out of the Overland Park Target and disappeared.
“When a person is missing, a parent doesn't eat, they don't sleep because you don't know if your child is eating, you don't know if they're sleeping, it's just pure agony, and it was all needless,” explained Missey Smith, Kelsey’s mother.
After four days of searching, the cell phone company finally agreed to track down the location of Kelsey's cell phone.
After police determined the phone’s approximate location, they found Kelsey’s body in 45 minutes.
Years in the making
Since then, Kelsey’s parents, Missey and Greg Smith, have worked to get legislation passed.
Congressman Kevin Yoder introduced the bill, and, after years of work, “Kelsey’s Law” may become federal law.
“By passing this legislation, we could help save an abducted baby or a child or someone who's in an emergency anywhere in this country," Congressman Yoder said. "It is worth it. It hits home in every neighborhood in both political parties across the country, and that's why it's resonated so well,”
Kelsey’s father, Greg Smith added: “This is the farthest we've ever gotten, so that's exciting. To be able to sit there tomorrow and watch them vote on this, it's a big deal.”
How the law would work
This law would only allow cell phone companies to determine the phone’s location; no other data would be accessed.
Missouri and Kansas, along with more than 20 other states, have put in similar legislation, but they want this to help everyone in the country.
“That's why we do what we do," Missey said. "We don't want another parent to feel that pain. There's a hole there that can never, never be filled. It's empty. But you do what you can to make it better for others so they don't know what that is.”
Similar legislation has passed in the following states:
1. Kansas - April 17, 2009
2. New Jersey - January 29, 2010
3. Nebraska - March 17, 2010
4. Minnesota - May 13, 2010
5. New Hampshire - July 13, 2010
6. North Dakota - April 8, 2011
7. Tennessee - April 26, 2012
8. Hawaii - April 30, 2012
9. Missouri - July 6, 2012
10. Pennsylvania - October 22, 2014
11. Utah - March 27, 2013
12. West Virginia - April 12, 2013
13. Colorado - May 13, 2013
14. Nevada - May 23, 2013
15. Rhode Island - July 15, 2013
16. Oregon - March 6, 2014
17. Arkansas - March 13, 2015
18. Iowa - May 1, 2015
19. Washington - May 7, 2015
20. Louisiana - June 23, 2015
21. Delaware - August 7, 2015
22. Indiana - March 21, 2016
Shannon Halligan can be reached at email@example.com.
Dia Wall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.