Iowa Senate passes sexual assault bills to the Governor 

Blake McMillan

Last Wednesday, April 7, the Iowa Senate unanimously approved House File 426. The bill seeks to better sexual assault evidence by using a collection kit tracking system. The Iowa Legislature BillBook writes, The purpose of the kit tracking system is to allow victims, county attorneys, and entities with custody of sexual abuse evidence collection kits to track the status and location of a kit.The Bill requires that all Iowa healthcare providers receive a rape kit from a victim and must give that victim a tracking status and location within 48 hours of receipt of the kit. The Bill now must be approved by Governor Kim Reynolds. 

What does this mean for Iowa? A step in the right direction. By allowing victims to track their kits, it shows that Iowa wishes to extend a hand of urgency to those that deserve it. At its core, it shows that Iowa is ready to handle any stresses that come with helping rape victims and caters towards their needs. 

The House also outlined fiscal plans to pay off the new tracking system through the Victim Compensation Fund. That will go into effect starting 2023, so until then, Iowans will still be expected to pay for their rape kit and tracking measurements. However, the Bill states that, Exact fiscal impact cannot be calculated at this time, but it is estimated to be minimal.Then, in 2023, the responsibility will be of the state. 

Another Bill was passed on Wednesday that sought to help victims of sexual assault. House File 603 introduces a new program called the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program, already adopted in New York under the acronym S.A.F.E. The program will, train, certify, and provide technical assistance to sexual forensic examiners and sexual assault nurse work alongside the Office of the Attorney General. This Bill looks to put advocates closer to the verdict in sexual assault trials. It was also passed unanimously. 

The two Bills being passed on, both being done so unanimously, shows that Iowa is making strides in terms of justice for sexual assault victims. Besides the low expenses for tracking rape kits for the next two years, there are no flaws to the Bills. A heavy responsibility sits on the desk of Reynolds, but all ethics considered, I cannot see a reality where she denies these Bills their rightful passage. 

Senators gathered last week to work in methodical, bipartisan manner, something both Iowa and the country has not seen in a while. While it would be nice to see some rapport on other issues that the rest of the global stage is watching, this is a powerful and important moment in Iowas legislature. It is refreshing to see that it is a unanimous decision, that the state can still agree on something. It is a mature stance that Iowa needs among nearly ridding the 1619 Project and banning tenure for college professors.