Federal Ashanti Alert Act becomes law

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A federal version of a law originally passed in Virginia has now been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The Ashanti Alert Act creates a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18 and 64, an age group that fell between the requirements for Amber or Silver alerts.

“Despite the tragic loss of Ashanti Billie, with the love and support of Meltony and Brandy Billie along with the Hampton Roads community, the Ashanti Alert Act is now law of the land," wrote Senator Mark Warner in a statement. "In this New Year, it is my hope that this important law enforcement tool can help save countless lives.”

Billie was a 19-year-old woman who was abducted in Norfolk on Sept, 18, 217 and her body was found almost two weeks after she was reported missing in North Carolina.

At the time of her abduction, she was too old to qualify for the Amber Alert system and too young for a Silver Alert to be issued.

The new alert system will notify the public about missing or endangered adults through a national communications network that will help law enforcement agencies in the search.

In June 2018, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia signed into a law a statewide Ashanti Alert system.

The federal version of the bill unanimously passed the U.S. House in September, but it was initially blocked from passing the U.S. Senate in its original form.

Warner worked with other members of the Senate to modify the bill, which eventually also passed unanimously.

In December, the modified version of the bill passed the U.S. House, which sent the legislation to Trump.

In Virginia, the first time the Ashanti Alert system was activated was for Samuel Lee Houchens, a Charlottesville man who disappeared June 20. He is still missing.

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