Big Win for Kari’s Law in Illinois

Fletch: Kari’s Law becomes law in the State of Illinois, and once again APN legal correspondent Martha Buyer joins me to discuss it. Welcome, Martha.

Martha Buyer: Thanks Fletch. Great to be here, as always.

Fletch: It’s always good to have you here. You bring a whole new light to the conversation and you promulgate our existence. I appreciate that.

Martha Buyer: I do my best.

Fletch: And it gives me another chance to use the word promulgate. I love that word.

There was a little bit of a shake-up in the Twitterverse this past week. Illinois State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant sent out a tweet that was very interesting.

Martha Buyer: She announced that Governor Quinn had signed Kari’s Law into effect in Illinois. It will become effective July 1, 2015, and it does carry some penalties for those who choose not to comply with the rules laid out in Kari’s Law.

Fletch: What does this mean for people with MLTS PBXs? There was a law in Illinois that existed. Kari’s Law is not changing that law, right?

Martha Buyer: Kari’s Law is enhancing that law. It’s providing additional requirements and it is also putting some teeth to the law, in the form of fines for non-compliance.

Fletch: That’s one of the biggest things that I always say. There are several laws for 911 out there … but really, when you think about it, this is one of the first [laws] that has compliance penalties associated with it.

Martha Buyer: Particularly for this issue. Certainly, there are compliance penalties associated with other issues related to 911, but particularly with this one–related to the dialing of an extra digit–this puts some new teeth and puts a new level of ferocity in place regarding enforcement.

Fletch: What does Kari’s law bring to the Illinois legislation, from the access code perspective? What do customers have to do with their PBXs? What changes do they need to make?

Martha Buyer: It’s very brief and I can read the whole thing. Don’t worry, you won’t fall asleep!

It says, “Any entity that installs or operates a private business switch service and provides telecommunications facilities or services to business shall ensure that all systems installed on or after the effective date of this mandatory act in the 9th General Assembly blah-blah-blah, are connected to the public switch network in a matter such that when a user dials 911, the emergency call connects to the 911 system without first dialing any number or set of numbers.”

If you call 911 from a hotel room as Kari Hunt’s daughter tried to do, instead of getting blocked because the system requires you to dial a 9 to get an outside line, the call has to go through.

Fletch: Now you are paraphrasing. It doesn’t actually say blah-blah-blah does it?

Martha Buyer: (laughs) It doesn’t, no.

Fletch: What we’ll do is we’ll post a link to the legislation in the written version of the blog, where people can go actually read this and bring this to their manager and say, “See, this is a problem. We have to fix this now.”

This seems to be a whole new trend now around 911. The focus is around access and availability and the on-site notification, letting people know that something has happened.

People have gotten away from the location discovery [issue], which has been the problem in the past. There are some new ways of handling that where that’s become less of the issue really.

Martha Buyer: There’s one other point that I just noticed in reading this again, and that is to whom it applies. It applies to any entity that installs or operates a PBX or private business switch service and provides telecommunications facilities or services to business.

Certainly, a hotel or a hospital, those fall under anyone’s definition of a business. Whether that applies to shared tenant service providers, it doesn’t sound like it does.

Fletch: Once again, the big news for today, Senate Bill 3313 in the State of Illinois has been signed by Governor Quinn and is now a law, and effective July 1st, 2015 where PBX operators have to provide access to 911 without an access code.

I want to thank Senator Jennifer Bertino- Tarrant (@49JBT) from the 49th District for championing this bill and being there when Governor Quinn signed it on August 11th. Special thanks once again to APN legal correspondent, Martha Buyer.

If you have any legal questions on 911 for your enterprise, you can reach out directly to her at martha@marthabuyer.com. To view and sign the petition covering Kari’s Law, go to change.org/karislaw.

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