HARRISBURG – The recently finalized 2019-20 state budget failed to include funding to specifically address Pennsylvania’s backlog of untested rape kits. State Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) has a legislative solution.
“These untested kits hold the key to unsolved crimes and unanswered questions from victims and their families whose lives have been horribly disrupted by individuals who are free to walk the streets,” Sankey said.
“There is no good reason why money hasn’t been appropriated for these kits, which have been sitting on a shelf for more than a year.
“I’m calling on the Legislature to allow our citizens to do what state government is unwilling to do.”
Sankey’s three-bill package would do the following:
House Bill 35 would establish the Sexual Assault Kit Processing Fund, a restricted account within the State Treasury that would fund grants for local law enforcement agencies with rape kit testing costs.
“Every 92 seconds, someone in this country is sexually assaulted,” added Sankey. “This fund would be a vehicle into which money would be directly appropriated, in order to prevent future backlogs.”
House Bill 36 would provide space on the Pennsylvania individual income tax return form for voluntarily contribution to address the cost of sexual assault examination kit processing. The amount designated will be deducted from the tax refund of the individual making the designation.
House Bill 580 would allow contributions to be made for sexual offense evidence testing when renewing a driver’s license, identification card, or vehicle registration.
“Despite what some people may think, Pennsylvania is filled with many good and decent people,” Sankey commented. “The legislation I’m offering would give every taxpayer an opportunity to help bring closure to victims of these crimes, and possibly even prevent a repeat offense against a future victim at the hands of a criminal who is currently at large.”
He added, “Last April, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced we’ve made a significant dent in the backlog over the last three years. That’s good, but not good enough. As citizens, we have the power to address this problem and give rape victims peace of mind.”