Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/08/2003 08:05 AM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   HB  49-EXPAND DNA DATABASE                                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  announced SCS CSHB  49(JUD), version \S, to  be up                                                               
for consideration.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON, sponsor  of HB 49, said  there were some                                                               
concerns  about  what   law  enforcement  can  use   DNA  for  in                                                               
investigations  and  about  destruction   of  the  samples  after                                                               
exoneration or once someone has  been convicted and how those are                                                               
retained. He  heard discussions about the  latitude of inclusions                                                               
of all felonies and misdemeanors.                                                                                               
SENATOR OGAN  said several years  ago, burglary was added  to the                                                               
list  of offenses  for which  DNA could  be collected.  This bill                                                               
would require DNA  samples from a couple of high  school kids and                                                               
lots  of  new   offenses.  DNA  is  not   like  fingerprints;  it                                                               
identifies  your  genetic  makeup  and  propensity  for  you  and                                                               
members of your family for  having certain diseases. He wanted to                                                               
know why  it was important to  expand this capability to  so many                                                               
other crimes including some misdemeanors.                                                                                       
MS. ANNIE CARPENETI, Department of  Law, supported HB 49 and said                                                               
they dealt with  some of the privacy issues  Senator Ellis raised                                                               
yesterday.   Mr.  Chris   Beheim,   Director,  Scientific   Crime                                                               
Detection  Laboratory,  Department  of Public  Safety,  testified                                                               
that he  has data that  shows how  having the information  in the                                                               
bank from crimes you would  not expect are necessarily related to                                                               
one another really helps solve  serious crimes that are committed                                                               
after the initial one.                                                                                                          
MS. CARPENETI said the privacy  concerns were good ones, but this                                                               
bill answers  those concerns. It's  a limited purpose DNA  bank -                                                               
only  for criminal  investigation and  identification. It's  also                                                               
limited to  convicted offenders  and volunteers.  The information                                                               
in the  data bank and  the samples are  confidential and it  is a                                                               
Class C felony  to misuse the samples or the  data resulting from                                                               
She  recapped  that  the  crime  lab tests  13  sites  on  a  DNA                                                               
molecule.  It's identification  information that  doesn't provide                                                               
information    about   propensity    for   disease    or   family                                                               
characteristics.  It's  true  that  the samples  are  saved,  but                                                               
that's to  be able to double-check  if a match is  made. The only                                                               
other time they  would be used would be if  another serious crime                                                               
were committed where blood or semen is left.                                                                                    
SENATOR OGAN said  DNA is collected from many  different things -                                                               
urine, saliva  and hair  to mention  a few.  His concern  is that                                                               
this  is good  as  long as  the government  is  good and  doesn't                                                               
violate the  Bill of Rights.  But, there  are people in  jail now                                                               
who have not  had due process and  no one has access  to who they                                                               
are; it's  not public  record and  the trials  are in  secret. He                                                               
carried his concern further saying  DNA information could be very                                                               
dangerous to  a person like  Saddam Hussein who might  track down                                                               
families of people he didn't like.                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH said that no one  would have their DNA taken until                                                               
a jury has said they are guilty  of a felony or they plead to it.                                                               
So, he felt  there was fairly significant protection  in the bill                                                               
for collection of  DNA. Statistics from Mr.  Beheim indicate that                                                               
if you  take DNA from  people convicted  of just drug  crimes, of                                                               
the  next crimes  solved,  18  percent are  sex  offenses and  23                                                               
percent  are homicides.  So, people  who have  a drug  conviction                                                               
frequently do a different and more  serious type of crime and the                                                               
same for  forgery. He felt  that just taking samples  from felony                                                               
criminals is a good balance.                                                                                                    
On page 3, line  27, the bill allows DNA analysis  to be used for                                                               
law  enforcement purposes  including criminal  investigations and                                                               
prosecutions and  he thought  deleting "law  enforcement purposes                                                               
including" would give some people  comfort that you wouldn't have                                                               
renegade usage of the DNA.                                                                                                      
He added that this  bill allows DNA to be taken  from a body part                                                               
at a crime scene or something like that.                                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS said they were  thinking about inserting "deceased"                                                               
in front of "unidentified person".                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH approved of that.                                                                                                
SENATOR  OGAN   supported  deleting  "law   enforcement  purposes                                                               
including" and was  concerned also with language on  page 3, line                                                               
7, that said "or tissue sample  from a crime scene as evidence or                                                               
from an  unidentified person  or body part".  The "or"  creates a                                                               
separate category.                                                                                                              
MS.   CARPENETI   suggested   saying  either   "law   enforcement                                                               
identification purposes  for identifying people and  body parts",                                                               
because  that's  not  necessarily   included  in  a  crime  scene                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH  felt  that  identifying  a  lost  person  was  a                                                               
separate issue from this bill.                                                                                                  
MS. CARPENETI said on page 3,  line 7 they could delete "and" and                                                               
on  line  8, delete  "person  or  body  part" and  insert  "human                                                               
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved to adopt  that as amendment 1. There was                                                               
no objection and it was so ordered.                                                                                             
SENATOR OGAN motioned to delete from page 3, line 27...                                                                         
TAPE 03-42, SIDE A                                                                                                            
"law enforcement purposes including".                                                                                           
MS.  CARPENETI  said  she   was  concerned  about  identification                                                               
purposes. There was general discussion of wording.                                                                              
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  if  there  was an  objection  to  doing  a                                                               
conceptual  amendment to  use  DNA  for identifying  unidentified                                                               
human  remains.  There  was  no objection  and  amendment  2  was                                                               
MS. CARPENETI suggested adding "or  child kidnapper" - after "sex                                                               
offender" on page  2, line 14 because that is  a term the federal                                                               
government uses.                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  motioned adopting that as  amendment 3. There                                                               
was no objection and it was so ordered.                                                                                         
SENATOR OGAN  said he understood  the connection, but  he thought                                                               
it would  be a  better bill  if DNA  were collected  for felonies                                                               
only. He said  he was willing to make some  sacrifices to live in                                                               
a  free society  where he  could keep  and bear  arms and  he was                                                               
willing  to  take   the  risk  and  delete   DNA  collection  for                                                               
misdemeanors.  He announced  his support  for the  bill would  be                                                               
contingent on that issue.                                                                                                       
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved to pass  SCS CSHB 49(JUD) from committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal notes.                                                                  
SENATOR OGAN objected. Chair Seekins  called for a roll call vote                                                               
and  the  motion  passed with  Senators  French,  Therriault  and                                                               
Seekins voting yeah and Senator Ogan voting nay.                                                                                

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