JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are dedicating $3 million to help address the state’s backlog of sexual assault evidence kits.
The Senate Appropriations Committee designated the federal funds to the Attorney General’s Office Wednesday, the Columbia Missourian reported .
Republican Sen. Caleb Rowden of Columbia proposed the budget amendment.
“I think there’s tremendous opportunity here to potentially increase this federal spending authority,” Rowden said.
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The budget will now go before the full Senate, where lawmakers can make additional amendments. A conference committee will complete the final version of the budget.
The money for the testing would be obtained through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative gives states funds to inventory and test kits, and provide resources to sexual assault victims.
Officials had no information on how many untested kits Missouri had, and the state had never conducted a full audit of the kits, according to a newspaper investigation last year. Attorney General Josh Hawley announced plans to conduct an audit shortly after the investigation.
The Missouri House passed a bill Thursday that allocates more Crime Victims Compensation Fund money to the state’s crime labs. The labs process evidence, including sexual assault evidence kits. Certain court fees fund the compensation fund.
Crime labs receive about $250,000 from the fund annually. The bill proposes setting that amount as the minimum and allowing as much as $1 million to go to the labs.
Information from: Columbia Missourian, http://www.columbiamissourian.com