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.
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.
How to Request a Waiver
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 (see FAQs for instructions on submitting an affidavit). 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.
Kari’s Law also requires an MLTS to be programmed to send notification of a 9-1-1 call to a central location on the site of the facility from where the 9-1-1 call was made, and per rule 251.15 also to an optional additional location. Providing call notification is only required if it can be done without improvements to the MLTS’s hardware. (See FAQs for additional information on notification requirements.)
Please note that:
- This waiver is used statewide for the entire state of Texas.
- The waiver is good for one year (September 1 to August 31).
- The request must be submitted before September 1st of each year.
S.B. No. 788
relating to requiring direct access to 9-1-1 service from certain
telephone systems and equivalent systems that use Internet Protocol
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. This Act shall be known as Kari's Law.
SECTION 2. Subtitle B, Title 9, Health and Safety Code, is
amended by adding Chapter 771A to read as follows:
CHAPTER 771A. ACCESS TO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN
Sec. 771A.001. DIRECT ACCESS TO 9-1-1 SERVICE REQUIRED.
(a) In this chapter:
(1) "9-1-1 service" means a communications service
that connects users to a public safety answering point through a
(2) "Business service user" means a user of business
service that provides telecommunications service, including 9-1-1
service, to end users through a publicly or privately owned or
controlled telephone switch.
(3) "Commission" means the Commission on State
(4) "Emergency communication district" means:
(A) a public agency or group of public agencies
acting jointly that provided 9-1-1 service before September 1,
1987, or that had voted or contracted before that date to provide
that service; or
(B) a district created under Subchapter B, C, D,
F, or G, Chapter 772.
(5) "Internet Protocol enabled service" has the
meaning assigned by Section 51.002, Utilities Code.
(6) "Telephone system" includes a multiline telephone
(b) This section applies to the extent the section is not
inconsistent with or preempted by federal law.
(c) Notwithstanding any other law, a business service user
that owns or controls a telephone system or an equivalent system
that uses Internet Protocol enabled service and provides outbound
dialing capacity or access shall configure the telephone system or
equivalent system to allow a person initiating a 9-1-1 call on the
system to directly access 9-1-1 service by dialing the digits 9-1-1
without an additional code, digit, prefix, postfix, or trunk-access
(d) A business service user that provides residential or
business facilities, owns or controls a telephone system or an
equivalent system that uses Internet Protocol enabled service, and
provides outbound dialing capacity or access shall configure the
telephone system or equivalent system to provide a notification to
a central location on the site of the residential or business
facility when a person within the residential or business facility
dials 9-1-1 if the system is able to be configured to provide the
notification without an improvement to the system's hardware. This
subsection does not require a business service user to have a person
available at the central location to receive a notification.
(e) The commission or the applicable emergency
communication district shall grant a one-year waiver of the
requirements under this section to a business service user if:
(1) the requirements would be unduly and unreasonably
cost prohibitive for a business service user to comply with; and
(2) the business service user provides an affidavit
not later than September 1 of each year stating:
(A) the manufacturer and model number of the
telephone system or equivalent system that needs to be reprogrammed
(B) that the business service user made a good
faith attempt to reprogram or replace the system; and
(C) if the telephone system or equivalent system
does not comply with Subsection (c), that the business service user
agrees to place an instructional sticker immediately adjacent to
each telephone that is accessed using the noncompliant system
indicating that during the waiver period the telephone is unable to
directly dial 9-1-1 and providing instructions for accessing 9-1-1
in case of an emergency. The instructional sticker must be printed
in at least 16-point boldface type in a contrasting color using a
font that is easily readable.
(f) The commission may adopt rules to implement this section
for areas that are governed by a regional plan, and an emergency
communication district may adopt those rules in accordance with
(g) On the request of the business service user, the
commission, an emergency communication district, or a home-rule
municipality that independently operates a 9-1-1 system shall
provide assistance to a business service user that is within the
applicable governmental entity's jurisdiction in complying with
SECTION 3. A business service user, as defined by Section
771A.001(a), Health and Safety Code, as added by this Act, shall
comply with Section 771A.001, Health and Safety Code, as added by
this Act, not later than September 1, 2016.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2015.
President of the Senate
Speaker of the House
I hereby certify that S.B. No. 788 passed the Senate on
April 16, 2015, by the following vote: Yeas 30, Nays 1.
Secretary of the Senate
I hereby certify that S.B. No. 788 passed the House on
April 30, 2015, by the following vote: Yeas 137, Nays 2, one
present not voting.
Chief Clerk of the House