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Once-stalled rape kit bill finds new life in last days of Ga. legislative session

Georgia state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Georgia state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A once-stalled bill to find and count neglected sexual assault evidence has new life Tuesday after House members voted to strip language from other legislation and replace it with the proposal.

House Bill 827, known as the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, passed the state House unanimously but stalled in the Senate because the chair of its Health and Human Services Committee declined to give it a required hearing. Sen. Rene Unterman, a Republican from Buford, said that creating a state law is unnecessary to solve a problem that exists only in Fulton and DeKalb counties. But her home county of Gwinnett and other jurisdictions such as Athens-Clarke County have also reported untested kits.

Members of the House judiciary non-civil committee voted unanimously to strip the language from Senate Bill 304, a crime proposal that passed the Senate Feb. 29, and replace it with the rape kit bill. If the House passes it again, it would bypass Unterman’s Health and Human Services Committee and head straight for the Senate.

Time is running out. This is the legislative session’s second-to-last day in session.

“We still have time and supporters want this to pass. We aren’t going to stop working,” rape kit bill sponsor Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Democrat from Atlanta, said after the vote.

Unterman now faces national ridicule for stalling the bill. On Tuesday night, political satirist Samantha Bee lampooned her on her TBS show Full Frontal.

Warning: Her language is just a little bit salty.

“Woman, have you lost your …mind?” Bee said as video of Unterman played on the screen, using a word that we can’t repeat in a family-oriented publication.

“Are you just [angry] that someone wrote the legislation instead of you? Or are you in the pocket of Big Rape? I don’t know,” she added.

The video screen flashed a faux logo for “Rapeco Industries LLC, For a Rapier Tomorrow, Today.”

 


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