DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Members of the Texas House could give final approval today to a measure that would help fund more testing of evidence in sexual assault cases. For years there has been a massive backlog in getting rape kits tested in cities, big and small, across the state.
State Representative Victoria Neave is proposing that Texans be allowed to voluntarily make donations whenever they renew their driver’s license. “What our bill would do is whenever you go apply for or renew your driver’s license there would be a little box that you can check to donate a dollar, or any amount that you would like, to go toward the testing of evidence in sexual assault cases.”
According to Neave, a Dallas Democrat, testing of those evidence kits can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000, resulting in thousands of kits finally producing concrete results. She said, “The [Texas] Legislative Budget Board anticipates that our bill if passed with your support would generate $1 million per year.”
The crowdfunding money would supplement those provided by the state and help pay for the lab testing of the nearly 4,000 untested kits sitting in storage at the state lab and thousands more in cities such as Dallas and Austin.
Neave said that ultimately, “Our House Bill 1729 would help address and end the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits that are sitting in crime labs all across our state.”
House Bill 1729 passed a vote on the Republican-controlled Texas House on Wednesday and is scheduled for another procedural vote today, before it goes to the Texas Senate for consideration.
As it stands, both the House and Senate are currently calling for some $4 million in funding for rape kit testing in their proposed budgets, but hey differ on where the money should come from.
In addition to clearing shelves in evidence rooms across the state, Neave said getting the kits tested will provide important information to prosecutors and help victims of sexual assault find justice in the court system.