Topeka Senators approved a bill Tuesday that would make it easier for law enforcement to track down a missing person through a wireless device.
The measure, adopted 40-0, says cell phone companies must release caller location information promptly to police when asked. Cell phone signals, known as pings, can be used to track a phone's location.
The bill, already approved 118-1 in a similar form by the House in February, was inspired by the 2007 kidnapping and slaying of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, of Overland Park. House and Senate negotiators will have to work out any differences between the bills before it can go to the governor.
"Nothing we do will outcome of that terrible day. The system usually works, but in this instance it did not," said Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Pat Apple, a Louisburg Republican.
Smith's parents, Greg and Missey Smith, have pointed to a delay in getting their daughter's cell phone provider to cooperate with police. That was done four days after she went missing, they have said, and their daughter's body then was found in a matter of hours.
The couple does not believe that quicker release of the cell information would have saved their daughter's life, but they say it could help someone else.
Edwin Hall pleaded guilty last year to Smith's murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The Senate's version of the bill also creates a legislative commission that would monitor changes in wireless communications technology and review ways to implement them for emergency and law enforcement uses. It also changes the criteria for cities and counties to receive aid to develop emergency communication systems.
"We're raising a generation of texters that have taken to that remarkably well. We need to have a system designed to adapt to the way people communicate," Apple said.
Rep. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican and sponsor of the bill in the House, said some provisions added by the Senate are opposed by the League of Kansas Municipalities and may be removed in the final compromise.
The bill would then need approval again from both the House and Senate before going to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. The bill would take affect after being published in the Kansas Register.