Kaul: Failure to act on sex assault kit bill is bad for victims and public safety

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 5:03 PM CST
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Wisconsin’s attorney general is calling out an Assembly committee chairman after a bipartisan bill that prevents a future backlog of untested sexual assault kits was not taken up at a public hearing.

“Failure to act on this legislation is bad for survivors of sexual assault and bad for public safety,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

The legislation,

, would set procedures for transmitting, processing, and storage of sexual assault kits.

The legislation was introduced in May 2019 and was co-sponsored by more than 70 state lawmakers. It later passed in the State Senate by a voice vote in October.

Kaul said last week, the Assembly Committee on Health held a public hearing, but did not take up the legislation. In December he asked State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, the committee’s chairman, to hold a public hearing on the measure.

In December,

he planned to hold a hearing on the bill and expected it would be pass before the end of session next year. He also said he had reservations about the bill.

“Rep. Sanfelippo should stop blocking this legislation, which has been awaiting a hearing since May of 2019,” said Kaul.

The committee has an executive session that will be held on Wednesday, and the bill is not scheduled for that session.

Kaul said there are roughly 1,400 sexual assault kits submitted to the State Crime Lab every year.

Part of the bill would allow the kit to be stored for 10 years if a sexual assault victim did not consent to analysis. The Department of Justice says it is not known if the bill would increase the number of kits to be stored and whether that will exceed the capacity of the existing freezer.

The DOJ,

in November. The estimate would be approximately $100,000 for an additional storage freezer, and $25,000 per year to rent and monitor temperature.

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