CONNECTICUT, USA — Families can resume hope for their missing loved ones after President Joe Biden signed into law the "Help Find the Missing Act" also known as Billy's Law on Tuesday.

The legislation streamlines the missing persons reporting process by ensuring that law enforcement databases are more accessible and comprehensive. 

The bill has gone through a 15-year journey when it was passed in the U.S. House but stalled in the Senate in 2009.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who first introduced the bill, said this is a big deal that is going to ensure families are reunited with their loved ones. 

“When I first met Jan and Bill almost 15 years ago, I was inspired by their determination to fix a missing persons system that had repeatedly failed them during the search for their son Billy," Murphy said in a statement Tuesday. "I’m so proud to have worked with Sen. [John] Cornyn, Congresswoman [Jahana] Hayes, the Smolinskis, the family of Gabby Petito, and countless others to finally get this bill to the president’s desk."

He continued: "This is a big deal that is going to ensure the thousands of other families with missing loved ones won’t face the same obstacles going forward."

Texas Sen. John Cornyn said improving the missing persons reporting process is essential for families who have exhausted all possible leads to find their loved ones.

“This legislation will ensure local law enforcement can work swiftly and comprehensively to deliver justice to the families and friends of the missing, and I am proud of the bipartisan support that pushed this bill across the finish line,” said Cornyn. 

In the late summer of 2004, 31-year-old Billy Smolinski vanished from his home in Waterbury and has not been found to this day. His family faced multiple obstacles in their own search for their son.

The Smolinskis search uncovered what they call a “shattered system”. The family of Gabby Petito - which garnered a lot of national attention last year - joined the Smolinskis in supporting the legislation.

The law was passed by the Senate on Dec. 14.