DNA collection upon arrest, human trafficking, and post conviction DNA testing pass House panel

02/13/2013 03:03 PM

The House Judiciary Committee pushed through myriad bills Wednesday dealing with DNA collection from felons, increasing the penalties for human trafficking and extending domestic violence protections for dating partners.

HB89
, a bill which allows for the collection of DNA from all persons charged with a felony offense passed the panel with a unanimous vote. The legislation was brought before the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat. Marzian was joined by Jan Sepich, who has championed this legislation across the nation and in Congress since the brutal murder of her daughter.

Sepich’s daughter, Katie, was raped and strangled, and her body was found set on fire in 2003. She was 22 years old. Katie fought back against her attacker, and DNA evidence – skin and blood – was found beneath her fingernails.

Jan Sepich began lobbying for a DNA repository of all suspects after she found out that it was against the law to collect that type of evidence. Sepich brought her fight to the federal government, and Katie’s law was passed in 2010. However, it is currently being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would cost around $30 per test, but several studies cited in Wednesday’s hearing said the testing could save money in the long run.

The panel heard more than one hour of testimony on the bill, including opposition from the ACLU and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. Opponents of the bill asked the panel, “where do we draw the line” – implying presumed guilt upon arrest.

Human trafficking gets round two in the General Assembly

HB3, the human trafficking bill, also cleared the committee with a unanimous vote from the panel. The committee quickly adopted the bill, which passed the full House in the 2012 session but stalled in the Senate.

This version of the bill does have some changes from last year’s. Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris — the bill’s sponsor — said she and others co-sponsors has worked with all the concerned parties of the interim to reach a consensus on a passable piece of legislation.

The Human Trafficking bill takes special account to protect children from human trafficking crimes.

House version of post conviction DNA testing again passes committee

House Bill 41 unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee with little discussion from the panel.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, who has filed the same bill in the past several sessions. Senate Bill 23
, the Senate version of the bill which will allow for post conviction DNA testing passed the full Senate last week.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters Monday that he thought the bills would be able to pass the House, but that he did prefer some of the language in the House version of the bill.

Domestic violence protection to dating partners passes

Despite little discussion, the House Judiciary Committee approved Committee Chairman John Tilley’s bill to extend domestic violence protection orders to dating couples.

The measure was approved 10-0, but five lawmakers passed because of the lack of debate.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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