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PD Editorial: Clear California’s backlog of sexual assault kits

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat Editorial Board

The arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer showed how useful DNA can be in solving crimes, even old ones. Yet an enormous collection of DNA evidence sits untouched in California. State lawmakers and local law enforcement should prioritize testing thousands of rape kits.

Two bills introduced in Sacramento would do just that.

California lead paint initiative comes under fire

The Mercury News, Katy Murphy

SACRAMENTO — In dramatic fashion, state lawmakers on Wednesday ripped into a California ballot initiative to have taxpayers, not paint companies, pay for lead-paint cleanup while overturning a landmark court ruling that made three manufacturers liable for the cost.

After hearing a panel of paint company representatives and initiative supporters quote President Barack Obama and invoke the racially discriminatory and since-banned practice of “redlining” in mortgage lending, lawmakers exploded.

The unconscionable backlog of unprocessed rape kits in California

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Women reporting a rape are often encouraged to undergo a grueling and invasive examination to collect DNA and other physical evidence. The process can take several hours, and involves poking and prodding and swabbing and questioning as medical professionals take samples from the parts of the victim's body that the rapist touched during the assault.

Editorial: It’s time to test a backlog of rape-kit evidence

The San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board

California’s police departments have thousands of untested rape kits on their shelves, prime evidence that could produce arrests in sex-assault cases. But the numbers aren’t known nor does the law require that the kits be examined for DNA traces that can yield results.

Two California Bills Attempt To Tackle Untested Rape Kit Backlog

Capitol Public Radio, Adhiti Bandlamudi 

California lawmakers are proposing two bills to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in the state.

One bill, SB 1449, is authored by Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva. She says the bill would change existing law with one word:

“By saying that law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories shall follow, instead of should follow, as it currently states, listed time frames for submitting and analyzing rape kit evidence,” Leyvah explains.

Thousands of untested rape kits need processing, legislators say

Bay City News Service

Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, emphasized the importance of two pieces of legislation on Tuesday that aim to tackle a backlog of untested rape kits in California.

A rape kit, or sexual assault kit, is a voluntary exam for victims directly after an attack occurs. The process can take up to six hours and collects DNA evidence from the victim’s clothing and body.

Chiu Legislation to Protect Crime Victims from Evictions Receives Key Support

SACRAMENTO—An effort lead by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to help prevent victims of abuse or other crimes from being evicted passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. Assembly Bill 2413 would give victims of crimes and residents experiencing emergencies added protections against nuisance ordinance-related evictions. 

“No one should have to choose between calling 911 or being able to stay in their home,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “This bill will ensure victims of crime or abuse can seek the emergency services they need while remaining secure in their housing.”  

More undocumented immigrants would qualify for health care in $250 million California plan

The Sacramento Bee, Angela Hart

More than 100,000 undocumented adult immigrants in California would be eligible for state-subsidized health coverage under a major budget push announced by Assembly Democrats on Monday.

Lawmakers are asking Gov. Jerry Brown for $1 billion, a large portion of which would fund a major expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's low-income health care program. Roughly a quarter of the request – $250 million – would extend Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrant adults who are ineligible for coverage.