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Gusciora & Pinkin Bill to Ensure Hotel Guests Can Dial 9-1-1 Easily Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Nancy Pinkin to bolster hotel guest safety by allowing direct dial to 9-1-1 in an emergency was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

“Every second counts in an emergency,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “In many cases the only person who can call for help during an emergency is a child. We should remove any impediment that makes it harder for anyone, especially children to seek and get help.”

The bill (A-2603) would require each hotel phone system in the state to be converted to a dial tone first system, which would allow a person making a phone call from a phone provided in a hotel guest room to dial 9-1-1 without first dialing any other digit. The provisions of the bill are operable to the extent that the provisions are not inconsistent with or preempted by federal law.

This bill is in response to a tragic incident in Texas when Kari Rene Hunt was stabbed to death in her motel room by her estranged husband. Kari’s oldest child, a 9 year old, attempted to dial 9-1-1 from the motel room, but was unaware that she had to first dial “9” to reach an outside line. The incident has brought national awareness to the need for hotels have updated phone systems so that hotel guests can easily access 9-1-1 during an emergency.

“There’s no time to waste when a life is in danger,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Any person should be able to dial 9-1-1 directly from a phone in a hotel room. Getting through to emergency personnel should not depend on knowing or remembering that you have to dial to dial a prefix.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Homeland Security & State Preparedness Committee.