(WMC-TV) - $2 million from the State of Tennessee could help rid City of Memphis of its rape kit backlog. But a Collierville lawmaker says, "Not so fast."
A senate Finance, Ways, and Means budget subcommittee discussed amendments that would appropriate money into next year's budget. The $2 million meant to help clear Memphis' rape kit backlog was cut.
Senator Mark Norris is one of the lawmakers who did not approve the money.
"It's not well-timed," he said. "I take it as seriously as anybody here."
It is a surprising stance for a lawmaker who sponsored bills to eliminate statute of limitations in rape cases, but he says the legislators first need an accurate inventory of the number of untested kits across the state.
"We believe it's important for us to quantify the problem. Now we understand there's some 12,000 kits untested in Shelby County, at least in the city of Memphis, but we don't know the scope of the problem elsewhere," said Sen. Norris. "I think if we begin appropriating sums in particular cities without knowing what other cities in the state may need, we'll find ourselves in a real predicament."
Senator Jim Kyle disagreed.
"How much time? Every day that passes and this backlog is not caught up makes it that much more difficult for prosecutors," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, this state is sitting on $1.7 billion in reserves ... We need to take a look at matters of extra ordinary value to our society and our citizens."
Sen. Kyle brought it up in front of the full senate Thursday even though it was tabled until next year. The vote was 22-8.
Sen. Norris says the federal government is considering about $35 million in funding for rape kit backlogs. If passed, he says Tennessee could apply for some of that money if it has an accurate inventory.
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