AUSTIN - Texans can now help victims of sexual assault get their backlogged rape kits tested.
On Thursday, state Rep. Victoria Neave formally announced the implementation of House bills 1729 and 1402, which give Texans the opportunity to donate to the cause while applying for or renewing their driver's license, personal ID card, commercial driver's license or vehicle registration.
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"Through HB1729 and HB4102, we have an opportunity to bring justice to women and all survivors of sexual assault who are still waiting to have their rape kits tested. No woman should have to wonder whether government will have the funds to test her rape kit," Neave said. "I believe that the State should be fully funding this issue, but it’s not, so our creative legislation will generate revenue because rape victims should not have to wait this long."
Since the bills went into effect on Jan. 1, Texans have already donated over $25,000.
“It’s about money,” Deana Franks, interim director of the Rape Crisis Center, said in October. “It’s not that no one wants to process them. Unfortunately, it's money.”
During fiscal year 2017, the Bexar County Crime Lab tested 589 rape kits. Each cost $315 to test, totaling $185,535, which comes out of city and county budgets.
As of Oct. 1, the cost to test each kit increased to $329. That increase will help pay for two new forensic serologists to help with the testing.
The money drivers choose to donate to fund that testing will go to the State Comptroller Office and will be awarded to local municipalities that apply for an evidence testing grant.
A report from the Texas Department of Public Safety shows that as of Aug. 31, Bexar County had tested all submitted rape kits. But, statewide, more than 2,000 rape kits need to be tested -- Dallas accounting for 1,798.
The five cities below have the highest number of untested rape kits, per the most recent data from TxDPS.
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