Lansing — People who submitted rape testing kits to police in Michigan may soon be able to track its progress with investigators under funding for the program the House approved Tuesday.
Following the Senate earlier this month, the state House OK’d more than $4 million to create a 5-year tracking system so survivors can see how far along their kits are under a supplemental appropriation bill that funds a host of programs and projects Gov. Rick Snyder had originally vetoed when he signed the 2017 state budget.
The House approved the bill 105-2 and the Senate passed it 37-0 earlier in October. It’s now on its way to Snyder’s desk for consideration.
Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the rape kit funding is critical.
“These evidence kits were sitting in an office in the (Detroit) police department and actually the problem has been throughout the state of Michigan,” she said. “I think it’s really important. We owe it to these victims that have had this very invasive test kit taken off of them.
“It gives the victim the ability to see where that piece of evidence is in the system,” she continued.
The supplemental funding would also grant Attorney General Bill Schuette another $600,000 for his Flint water crisis criminal probe, allocate more than $16 million in federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic and spend $700,000 in state money to test Medicaid recipients for a history of opioid addiction.
Cox said the extra money for Schuette’s criminal investigation and prosecution is not new money. She said it’s the attempt to fix an error made during the last budget.
“So that was not an increase,” she said. “It was just funding what was already approved before. It’s the same level that it was last year for the prosecution and investigation of the Flint water crisis.”
Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, has said the opioid screening for Medicaid recipients is meant to extend to them the option that those with private health insurance already have.
“Opioid addiction is one of the top things in the state we’re trying to address right now,” Iden said, “and if we can determine if people are predisposed to a certain type of opioid within their gene markers – if we can identify that early on, I believe that will help our doctors be able to prescribe medication that doesn’t necessarily impact their affinity for addition.”
The supplemental bill includes another $1 million to fight vapor intrusion, or toxic vapors that can filter up through the ground into homes and businesses on or near groundwater or soil contaminated with legacy metal working or dry cleaner pollution.
Staff writer Jonathan Oosting contributed