Political News

Nevada Democrats get behind time limits to test rape kits

Posted April 14

— Nevada Democrats got behind a plan on Friday to impose time limits on police departments as well as crime labs to test rape kits, but a mid-session deadline is dooming scores of other Republican proposals.

Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee agreed on amended legislation requiring lab specialists to test forensic samples from sexual assault cases within 120 days of receiving them.

It also seeks a yet-unspecified amount of state funding to address a backlog of rape kits that last month totaled roughly 6,400 solved and unsolved cases.

A previous legislative analysis estimated a similar policy could cost $750,000 a year.

The amendment reverses an effort led by Democratic Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson earlier this week to forego time limits on labs, saying that dedicating more police resources to processing evidence of sexual assault would be too financially burdensome.

The Democrats' proposal will advance instead of a comparable measure to speed up rape-kit testing from Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, which was based on a two-year study led by his office. He applauded the modified bill and said he was grateful that Democrats considered the study's recommendations.

"Today's amendment and passage out of committee brings us one step closer to ending the backlog and providing justice for victims and survivors of sexual assault," Laxalt said.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford agreed, saying, "it's better for victims."

Benitez-Thompson declined to comment during a break in committee meetings on the hectic day.

Here's a look at proposals likely to die overnight because they were not given a hearing, committee vote or exemption from the first major legislative deadline:

KEEPING EYES ON SEX OFFENDERS

Laxalt also proposed legislation to authorize additional oversight of sex offenders under lifetime supervision. Assembly Bill 59 aimed to comply with a recent Nevada Supreme Court decision that parole officials need state permission to implement rules on serious sex crime offenders, such as government approval to work with kids, home searches, drug tests or curfews.

BAN ON SANCTUARY CITIES

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson has repeatedly advocated to prohibit city and county officials from discouraging law enforcement agencies from implementing federal immigration laws. The Henderson Republican's Senate Bill 333 would have required the state attorney general to investigate any complaint that a local government is refusing to detain people living in the country illegally.

CONTINUED CARE FOR INCURABLY ILL

Assemblyman Keith Pickard, a Carson City Republican, said Assembly Bill 352 has been put aside for now, but he'll continue to work after this session on his bid to outlaw insurance companies from dropping coverage during annual reassessments of patients' incurable diseases.

LOADED FIREARMS AT THE READY

A Republican-led interim lands committee wanted to allow hunters to keep loaded rifles and shotguns in vehicles that are on — and allow them to fire across — dirt roads and state highways if they're intending to shoot coyote, black-tailed jackrabbit or another species that does not require a hunting license.

BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOR STILLBORN BABIES

The bipartisan and bicameral Senate Bill 296 would require the Nevada Board of Health to provide parents of stillborn babies with birth certificates.

LAST-MINUTE SAVES

Democratic legislative leaders have given special status to dozens of their bills, allowing them to survive the midnight deadline without a vote. The exempted bills include proposals to legalize physician-assisted suicide , increase solar energy credits, raise the state's renewable energy goals and require drugmakers to publicly report their costs of doing business and research.

"Why do we have rules at this point if we're just going to exempt every bill?" Assembly Minority Leader Paul Anderson said.

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