Committee approves “Kelsey Smith Act”

As his final act as Chairman of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee, Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny/Butler) had the pleasure of voting with the panel to approve legislation he introduced that would require wireless providers to “ping” the cell phone of a missing person at the request of law enforcement officials when there is sufficient information to believe there is a risk or threat of death or serious physical harm.

The Committee also approved a Resolution designating May 7th as Health Care Information Technology Awareness Day in Pennsylvania

Senate Bill 1290, also known as the “Kelsey Smith Act,” now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Vulakovich’s bill is named after an 18-year old Kansas woman who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in 2007.  The tragedy resulted in a movement by her parents to ensure that law enforcement authorities can receive assistance from cell phone providers to help find the missing person.

“In cases where there is a suspected abduction, minutes are precious,” said Sen. Vulakovich. “Obtaining a subpoena can take time and often delays law enforcement response to situations involving risk of death or serious injury.  This is especially true when dealing with a missing person believed to be a victim of a crime.”

Since 2005, the FCC has required cell phone manufacturers to include GPS receivers in all devices.  This has allowed first-responders to pinpoint the location of 911 callers in an emergency.  While Pennsylvania law enforcement officials can request this information from cell phone providers, in most cases a subpoena is required.  SB 1290 would expedite the process when there is the threat of imminent danger to the victim.

In addition to Kansas, thirteen states have passed similar legislation.  They are Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Senate Resolution 325, introduced by Senator Vulakovich, marks May 7th as Pennsylvania Health Care Information Technology Awareness Day.

“The intent of this resolution is to continue promoting better health care through broader adoption of advanced health care information technology and management systems,” Senator Vulakovich said. “Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems are outpacing hospitals nationally in their adoption and use of clinical information technology and information management systems.”

Senator Vulakovich is giving up his chairmanship Senate Communications and Technology Committee to serve as chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee.

Contact:  Nate Silcox (717) 787-6538