Companion legislation in the House of Representatives, led by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and John Shimkus (R-IL), was included in the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America (LIFT America) Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NM) introduced legislation today to accelerate federal efforts to modernize the nation’s aging 9-1-1 systems. The Next Generation 9-1-1 Act creates a federal grant program to help state and local governments deploy next generation 9-1-1 systems across the country. The upgrades are urgently needed to help move the country’s largely outdated 9-1-1 call centers and related technology into the digital age and enables them to handle text messages, pictures, videos, and other information sent by smartphones, tablets, and other devices when faced with an emergency. Also today, companion legislation in the House of Representatives led by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and John Shimkus (R-IL) was included in the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America (LIFT America) Act.

“In a crisis, no one should be put in danger because of outdated 9-1-1 systems—first responders, public safety officials, and law enforcement must be able to communicate seamlessly,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will bring our 9-1-1 systems into the 21st century by providing state and local governments with the resources they need to update our emergency response networks and keep our communities safe.”

“In America, infrastructure means more than just roads and bridges—it includes critical technologies. This is an important step towards upgrading our outdated 9-1-1 systems and I look forward to swift passage in the House and Senate,” she continued.

“Our brave law enforcement and first responders need every tool at their disposal when natural disasters and tragedies happen,” Cortez Masto said. “I’m proud to introduce legislation that provides more support to local agencies to upgrade emergency equipment and communication infrastructure that keeps our first responders responsive and our law enforcement connected so they can respond swiftly. This bill is a long overdue step to bring our 9-1-1 call centers into the digital age.”

“Communications have changed dramatically since the first 9-1-1 call was placed fifty years ago, but emergency call centers haven’t kept pace with these innovations,” Eshoo said. “Over 75 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, and our 9-1-1 call centers should be equipped with the best technology available to respond to calls for help. Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 technology will help bring 9-1-1 call centers into the 21st Century, and our bill provides much needed funding for states and local communities to upgrade their 9-1-1 infrastructure, helping first responders and public safety officials save lives.”  

“Most everyone knows to call 9-1-1 in an emergency,” Shimkus said. “But not everyone is aware of the limitations of our existing emergency communications infrastructure. This bipartisan legislation will help communities modernize their 9-1-1 systems to receive better information from more sources in an emergency.”

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, Klobuchar has been a leader in pushing to expand and improve emergency communications infrastructure. In 2017, Klobuchar joined former Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) to introduce the Next-Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017 to boost federal support for a rapid and effective transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 across the country. In 2018, Kari’s Law, bipartisan legislation to make contacting emergency personnel simpler and easier, led by Klobuchar and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), was signed into law. In 2013, Kari Rene Hunt of Marshall, Texas, was murdered by her estranged husband in a hotel room. When Kari’s 9-year-old daughter tried to dial 9-1-1 for help, she could not reach emergency personnel because she did not dial “9” to reach an outside line. Kari’s Law requires the manufacturers of multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to create systems that allow callers to reach 9-1-1 without dialing a prefix or postfix. The law requires on-site notification to make it easier for first responders to locate 9-1-1 callers in large buildings. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were original cosponsors of the legislation.