I asked Scott Holcomb about his stalled rape kit bill last week in between hearings. “It’s not over,” he said. Around here, until the gavel falls on Sine Die, he’s always going to be right.
This afternoon, State Sen. Elena Parent’s gun background check bill was martyred in the name of testing rape kits.
State Rep. Scott Holcomb’s (D-Atlanta) bill to force local agencies to clear the backlog of untested rape kits accumulating around Georgia’s labs passed unanimously earlier this session only to be blocked by State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services committee. Unterman’s explanation, that the issue is “over-politicized” and that “I don’t see a reason to write a law,” has been skewered eight ways to Sunday in local and national media, including an appearance on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” last week.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil committee stripped the language of Parent’s (D-Atlanta) SB 304 from her bill and replaced it with Holcomb’s rape kit bill. Because Parent’s bill has already passed the Senate, it will not necessarily be returned to a committee; it will go straight to the Senate floor. Unterman — who is a powerful figure in the Senate — will likely demand her caucus disagree with the rewrite, which will then set up a major floor fight in the final day of the session.
“We have a lot more work to do, but we’re not giving up,” Holcomb said.
The process is Byzantine, of course, and it reflects the kind of knife fighting any legislation proposed by Democrats has to go through to win passage in a Republican-dominated legislature.”I’ve never seen this happen before,” said State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) a member of the committee. “Scott has worked very hard on this. It’s gone through so many revisions and has so much bipartisan organizational support. It is definitely something that was needed.”