Texas Senate advances bill to crowdfund rape kit testing

Texas Capitol star

May 17, 2017

The Texas Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would crowdfund money from Texans to deal with a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits, moving the proposal closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. 

House Bill 1729, filed by Rep. Victoria Neave, a freshman Democrat from Dallas, would give those applying or renewing their driver’s license an option to donate $1 or more toward rape kit testing. 

The Senate passed the measure in a 29-1 vote, with Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, in opposition. The bill already sailed though the House, and that chamber must weigh a minor clerical amendment added by the Senate Wednesday before sending the bill to Abbott. 

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Thousands of rape kits remain untested in Texas, mostly due to a lack of funding to process them. Testing an evidence collection kit costs between $500 and $2,000. Neave’s measure is expected to generate about $1 million in collections each year for that cause. 

The Department of Public Safety reported a backlog of 20,000 untested rape kits ahead of the 2013 session, and lawmakers pumped $11 million into addressing it. But more than 3,500 of those identified kits are still untested — meaning they haven’t been analyzed in more than five years. 

The agency has not updated its statewide rape kit backlog data since then, meaning there are likely even more untested kits in Texas today. 

Jonathan Silver and Sanya Mansoor contributed to this report. 

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/05/17/texas-senate-advances-bill-crowdfund-rape-kit-testing/.

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