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Universal 911 Bill Passes Illinois Senate

Legislation prompted by a tragedy in Texas, after a 9-year-old girl was unable to call for help as her mother was murdered.

Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. Credit: File photo
Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. Credit: File photo
A bill that would require hotels and other businesses to offer universal 911 dialing — as opposed to having to dial "9" first to get out — passed the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 3313 was sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), who was moved by a tragedy thousands of miles away.

Last December, a 9-year-old girl tried in vain to call for help as her mother was stabbed to death in a Texas hotel room. The little girl attempted several times to call 911 — but didn't know she had to dial "9" to reach an outside line. Horrifically, Kari Hunt died as her children listened helplessly. Her estranged husband is charged with the crime.

“We teach our children to dial 9-1-1,” said Bertino-Tarrant. “That number should work at all times and from anywhere.”

Under the proposed law, newly installed phone systems at businesses and hotels would allow anyone to call 911 without having to pre-dial a code such as "9" first.

“We need to ensure that everyone, especially children, can easily reach emergency operators in a time of crisis,” Bertino-Tarrant said. 

The issue is also being taken up on the federal level and has been dubbed “Kari’s Law” in honor of the Texas woman.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3313, passed unanimously out of the Senate today with the co-sponsorship of every member of the chamber. It now moves to the House of Representatives.

Kari Hunt's father, Hank Hunt, has launched an online petition to enact "Kari's Law," which would require hotels and other businesses to have phone systems that allow calls to connect automatically to 911. More than 440,000 people have signed the petition so far.

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