Rep. Schiff DNA Bill Goes to President for Signature

Would Award Grants to States to Implement DNA Collection for Felony Arrestees

Congressman Adam Schiff announced that his legislation, the Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012 (H.R. 6014), has passed the Senate and is now headed to President Obama for his signature. Originally introduced in 2010, Katie’s Law bears the name of Katie Sepich, a college student who was raped and murdered in 2003 in New Mexico. Her attacker was arrested several times over subsequent years but was never linked to Katie’s murder, as his DNA was not collected until 2006.

“I’m pleased that the Senate passed this important legislation, and it’s now on the President’s desk awaiting his signature. Katie’s Law is an important step that will save lives. Every improvement we make to our DNA system means that more violent crimes solved and more violent felons taken of the street. It is a smart approach that also has the merit of saving taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Schiff. “Just as we fingerprint arrestees, it makes sense to collect a DNA profile when someone is arrested for a violent felony, and this bill will encourage states around the nation to join California and other states that have adopted arrestee testing.”

“We are so grateful for the support of our primary sponsors, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. David Reichert and Senator Charles Schumer who worked so tirelessly to support this bill and see it enacted,” said Katie’s mother Jayann  Sepich.

The Katie Sepich Enhanced DNA Collection Act of 2012, also known as Katie’s Law, establishes a program to provide grants to states which implement DNA collection programs for arrestees of murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary, and aggravated assault. States are authorized to collect DNA for a larger subset of crimes but must do so for those felony crimes. The bill uses funding sources within the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Act and specifies that up to $10 million in each fiscal year from 2013 to 2015 may go to grants to states under Katie’s law.

An example of the power of arrestee testing comes from a case in Los Angeles. In 1987, Chester Turner was arrested for assault in California, but freed due to a lack of evidence. DNA technology was in its infancy at the time and Turner’s DNA was not taken upon arrest. Turner continued to terrorize a Los Angeles community and was arrested 19 more times before being convicted of rape in 2002. Only then was his DNA profile taken, and it matched evidence found on 12 rape and murder victims, the first murdered only two months after his 1987 arrest. Had California taken his DNA when he was first arrested, as is now required under state law, his decades long crime spree could have been prevented or cut short.

Mike Gatto Bill: Broken Meters Shouldn’t Lead to Tickets

Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced legislation this week that will allow Californians to park for free at broken or malfunctioning parking meters for the maximum time allowed by the meter. The bill, AB 61, would prohibit local governments, such as cities and counties, from enacting an ordinance that bans parking in a space controlled by a broken meter or broken kiosk for on-street parking.

Last year, California legislators unanimously passed SB 1388 (DeSaulnier), which authorized parking at an inoperable parking meter for up to the posted time limit if no ordinance or resolution had been adopted to prohibit it. This language created a loophole that allowed for the Los Angeles City Council to pass an ordinance to uphold the city’s policy of ticketing drivers who park in spaces with broken parking meters. Gatto’s bill would close this loophole and protect individuals from cities and counties that are overzealous in their parking enforcement.

“It’s just wrong for cities to ticket people who want to park at a meter that the city has failed to fix,” said Gatto. “Or to force a motorist to drive around or park in a paid lot when a perfectly good spot on the street is available.”

A NBC4 investigation found that more than 17,000 parking tickets had been issued in a single year for meters that had been reported as malfunctioning to the city of Los Angeles.

“It is the responsibility of local governments to maintain their meters and keep them in good working order,” said Gatto. “The people should not have to pay for the government’s mistakes or inefficiencies, especially when the people already paid to install and maintain the meters in the first place.”