(WTNH) – The Help Find the Missing Act, also known as “Billy’s Law,” was signed into law on Tuesday by President Joe Biden. The new law was named after a Connecticut man who went missing almost 18 years ago.

“Billy’s Law” will help close loopholes in America’s missing persons systems by streamlining the missing persons reporting process and ensuring that law enforcement databases are more accessible and comprehensive.

Billy Smolinski went missing in August of 2004 in Waterbury. His family learned that federal law does not mandate that law enforcement report missing adults or unidentified bodies.

“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. I’m so proud to have worked with Senator Cornyn, Congresswoman Hayes, the Smolinskis, the family of Gabby Petito, and countless others to finally get this bill to the president’s desk. 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,” said Senator Chris Murphy.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2009.

Each year, tens of thousands of Americans go missing and an estimated 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains across the country are either held at coroners’ offices or disposed of after going unclaimed.

The legislation is set to direct the Department of Justice to continue to operate the National Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons System, provide a missing persons/unidentified remains database to which the public can contribute access and expand the current law by requiring missing children to be reported to NamUs.