A bill aimed at giving sexual assault survivors in Texas more access to available resources has made it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R-Texas) desk where it awaits his signature to become law.
House Bill 2706 overwhelmingly passed in both the Texas House of Representatives and the State Senate with no lawmaker voting against it.
“Texas stands with survivors of sexual assault,” State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) wrote in a June 2 tweet.
Nelson was one of four Republicans and the only GOP lawmaker in the Senate to co-sponsor the bill.
“We passed HB 2706 to increase access to community-based Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Programs,” she tweeted.
Lawmakers took recommendations from the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Task Force, which had asked for victims to be given increased access to medical testing after an assault and clarified how the victims would be reimbursed for what could be costly tests.
“Expanding access to Sexual Assault Forensic Exams will help deliver justice to survivors across our state,” Nelson wrote in a statement.
HB 2706 relates “to the emergency services and care provided to victims of sexual assault and other sex offenses and to the processes associated with preserving and analyzing the evidence of those offenses.”
Approximately six million Texans have been the victim of some sort of sexual assault in their lifetime. According to statistics from Denton County Friends of the Family, two in every five women and one in five men have been sexually assaulted in the state. Most victims knew the person who committed the assault.
State lawmakers in 2019 approved the Lavinia Masters Act in relation to the timely testing of rape kits. Texas has a massive backlog of untested rape kits that dates back a decade. An estimated 18,000 kits are added to the database each year, only adding to the number of kits that need to be tested.