Texas Senate Bill 788 signed into law

Background on Kari’s Law

On May 15, 2015, Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 788 (Kari’s Law). The law represents the culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the murder of Kari Hunt in a motel room in Marshall, Texas. Ms. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 9-1-1 for help four times from the motel room phone. The call never went through because she did not know to first dial “9” for an outbound line before dialing “9-1-1.” On March 1, 2016, Commission on State Emergency Communications Rule 251.16 (Direct Access to 9-1-1 Service) adopted to implement Kari’s Law went into effect.

Read more information about Kari’s Law: SB788, or CSEC rule 251.16.

What it Means – Direct access to 9-1-1 service and multi-line telephone systems.

For a multi-line telephone system that provides outbound dialing, Kari’s Law requires direct access to 9-1-1 service without the user having to first dial an initial number, digit, prefix or other access number or code before dialing 9-1-1. On March 1, 2016 the Commission on State Emergency Communications adopted Rule 251.16 (Direct Access to 9-1-1 Service) to implement Kari’s Law.

Compliance with Kari’s Law is required by September 1, 2016. Otherwise, a waiver form must be completed every year. The waiver is valid September 1 through August 31.

For a multi-line telephone system that provides outbound dialing, Kari’s Law requires direct access to 9-1-1 service without the user having to first dial an initial number, digit, prefix or other access number or code before dialing 9-1-1. If such a telephone system, commonly referred to as a multi-line telephone system (MLTS), cannot be reprogrammed or replaced to meet the direct access requirement without the user incurring undue and unreasonable costs, a one-year waiver shall be granted upon timely submission of an affidavit, which can be found here. For each telephone handset used with a non-compliant MLTS, an instructional sticker must be placed immediately adjacent to, and optionally on, the handset instructing the user how to access 9-1-1 service. The instructional sticker must be printed in at least 16-point boldface type, in a contrasting color using a font that is easily readable, and be written in English and Spanish.

See bill history here.

See original text of bill here.