Texas House Bill aims to help raise money for state's rape kit backlog

AUSTIN, TX (KAUZ) - Legislation to help reduce the backlog of untested rape kits was heard by the House Criminal Jurisprudence committee on Monday.

State Rep. Victoria Neave (D) is pushing House Bill 1729 that would allow people applying for or renewing their driver's license to voluntarily contribute a dollar or more to a fund that would pay for the testing of rape kits.

"This isn't only something that affects victims, but it also is something that makes our community, as a whole, safer," Emily Kincaid, Interim Executive Director of First Step said.

According to EndTheBacklog.org, Texas has 19,018 untested kits.

"It would be something I support," Wichita Falls resident Dennis Bass said.

If rape kits are not tested, cases can close without prosecution according to EndTheBacklog.org.

Advocates said this sends a message to thousands of victims that their cases do not matter.

They said it also sends a message to the rapist that they can escape punishment for their actions.

"The victims are entitled to justice and their story matters. Their case matters and they're entitled to get that justice," Kincaid said.

The state's Legislative Budget Board is predicting the measure would bring in around $1 million a year.

The money donated through the voluntary fee would make its way to the governor's criminal justice office.

Once there, local agencies can apply for grants from that office to test rape kit evidence.

We posted this story to our Newschannel 6 Facebook page to see how people felt about the proposed bill.

Samantha Forester, Newschannel 6

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