Kelsey Smith Act falls short in House vote

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Update: The Kelsey Smith Act received 229 votes in the House of Representatives, falling short of a mandated 2/3rd majority needed to pass, Rep. Kevin Yoder said on Monday. FOX 4 will have a follow-up story at 9 and 10 p.m.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The parents of Kelsey Smith have pushed for a law in honor of their murdered daughter, and after years of hard work, it’s closer to being a national law.

Kelsey Smith was abducted from a Johnson County Target parking lot on June 2, 2007 and found murdered days later. Her case garnered international media attention and was featured on "America's Most Wanted."

Her parents helped create the Kelsey Smith Act to help family members find their missing loved ones faster. It’s law in 22 states and is getting a vote on the house floor Monday. The House is expected to vote at approximately 5:30 p.m. CT. Click here for video of Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, who urged colleagues to pass the Kelsey Smith Act.

"The reality is this law is not on the books in 28 states and those children are not protected and we cannot as a House allow this to stand and so I ask my colleagues to dig deep in their heart," said Yoder to other representatives in the U.S. House. "The Kelsey Smith Act creates a narrow exception for law enforcement officers to gain access to limited call-location information of an individual's cell phone in the event of an emergency like a kidnapping. In those cases every second counts. Unfortunately in Kelsey's case it took four excruciating days for law enforcement to finally obtain the location data from her cell provider."

“I miss her. I miss her every day. I had this beautiful girl. She was taken from me,” Missey Smith said.

Target surveillance footage would be the last time Greg and Missey Smith would see their 18-year-old daughter Kelsey alive.

“When I'd say goodbye or say goodnight, I'd kiss the top of her head. I really miss doing that,” Greg Smith said.

Nearly a decade later, the pain is still very fresh for the Smith family but one thing that has helped them cope is the Kelsey Smith Act.

“Everything that we do is about making it better for someone else.”

Already law in 22 states, the Kelsey Smith Act would allow law enforcement to lawfully and quickly access cell phones by pinging them. While it likely would not have saved Kelsey’s life, it would’ve brought her parents closure much faster.

“It would've brought her home much sooner than 4 days; it has brought others home,” Missey Smith said.

In February of last year, Kelsey’s Law helped save the life of a 5-month-old Lenexa girl. A stranger stole a car with the baby in the backseat and through Kelsey’s Law, police were able to ping a phone and within an hour the baby was reunited with her parents.

“This law is extraordinary, it really needs to pass.”

In addition to Congressman Kevin Yoder, the Smiths will be in attendance.

“We have a long way to go in Washington D.C. today, but yet we are closer than we've ever been,” Yoder said.

As the Smiths board the plane to D.C. on Monday and hear House Representatives say their daughter’s name, they know she’ll be there with them.

“As long as we win by one vote tomorrow we win. She wins. She's making this happen,” Missey Smith said.

Unfortunately, the bill received 229 votes in the House, falling short of a mandated 2/3 majority.

Although the bill did not pass, Rep. Yoder said he will continue fighting. He said he expects the bill to be brought back to the House floor soon so only a simple majority may pass the bill.

“It’s clear the Kelsey Smith Act has the support of the majority of the House of Representatives. While I’m disappointed in tonight’s outcome, I look forward to the bill being brought back to House floor when a simple majority vote can get it passed,” Yoder said in a statement.

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