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Changes to how Missouri handles rape kits heard in Senate committee

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Legislation changing how Missouri handles sexual assault kits was heard before a Senate committee Monday. 

From Republican Sen. Andrew Koenig, SB 569 would streamline the testing process and give victims or advocates greater ability to track the kits. 

“For far too long, women and other Missourians who have been sexually assaulted have been treated as second-class citizens when it comes to processing their evidence,” Koenig told the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Monday afternoon.

Since Koenig pre-filed the bill in December, there have been two tweaks, he said. Originally, the bill provided an option for victims to receive “push alert” style notifications on the status of the kits; now, victims will have to log into the system. 

Additionally, the legislation has been changed to require the state to keep and preserve unreported rape kits for five years. Reported kits would still need to be kept for 30 years, however, Koenig said. 

Efforts to streamline the rape kit testing process in both chambers of the General Assembly came after the Attorney General’s Office released an audit of the more than 6,000 untested sexual assault kits in the state. The audit revealed 6,157 kits remained untested across Missouri and identified an additional 830 that might need to be retested. 

“We’re appreciative that this issue is getting the attention it deserves in the legislature, and we’ll continue to track this bill as it moves forward,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, told The Missouri Times. 

Nuelle declined to comment on the changes to the bill since it has been filed. 

The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) and the Missouri Hospital Association testified in favor of the bill. No one testified in opposition. 

State Rep. Hannah Kelly is championing similar legislation in the House.