Bills to quicken sexual assault kit testing, amended charter school legislation clears Senate

03/16/2016 06:05 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would require that all sexual assault kits be tested in a timely fashion has passed the full Senate chamber by a unanimous 38-0 vote.

Senate Bill 63, sponsored by Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, would require all sexual assault kits be submitted to the Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory and tested within 60 days by 2020.

Last fall, a report issued by former state Auditor Adam Edelen found that there were 3,090 untested sexual assault kits in the state and lengthy turnaround times for testing forensic evidence.

However, the Kentucky State Police confirmed to Pure Politics that they did not know exactly how many kits were untested.

Harper Angel said that the bill regulates clear guidelines for completion of the testing.

“The bill requires the average completion date for assault kit testing not to exceed 90
days by July 2018, and not to exceed 60 days by July 2020,” Harper Angel said.

SB 63 also seeks to improve the standard of care victims receive at Kentucky’s health care facilities, improve accountability by providing for the collection and analysis of important data related to sexual assaults and enhance training of law enforcement into sexual assault investigations.

The Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, (KASAP) applauded the passage of a comprehensive measure designed to improve the way sexual assault evidence kits are handled in the state.

“Senate Bill 63 will bring more justice to sexual assault survivors, improve public safety and help law enforcement catch more criminals,” KASAP Executive Director Eileen Recktenwald said. “On behalf of survivors across the Commonwealth, we want to thank Senators Denise Harper Angel and Whitney Westerfield for engaging in a thoughtful, bipartisan process to draft this measure.”

“The number one goal is to prevent a backlog of untested kits from ever happening again,” Recktenwald said. “We believe this bill achieves that.”

SB 63 now moves on to the house for consideration.

Amended charter schools bill passes full Senate

Senate Bill 253, sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, which would establish a five-year charter school pilot project beginning with the 2017-18 academic year and continuing through the 2021-22 academic year in Fayette and Jefferson counties has passed the full Senate chamber by a 27-10 vote.

The bill originally called for the establishment of the Kentucky Charter School Commission which would oversee operation of the schools, but a floor amendment by Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, called for the local school boards in those counties to oversee the new schools.

“If we are going to allow charter schools, let the local school board do it,” Thomas said. “We say we want local control in our schools, then let’s have local control.”

Wilson was agreeable to the amendment. The legislation will now move to the lower chamber where it’s been defeated in previous sessions.


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