April is not only Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S.; it also ushered in the second half of this year’s state legislative session. More than a dozen bills related to sexual assault and abuse were brought before the Nevada Legislature this time around. Of those, six have survived the first deadlines for consideration and advanced. Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Daniele Dreitzer says she’s paying particular attention to these three:
• Assembly Bill 145 – It would extend the time that a victim of child sexual abuse has to file a civil action from 10 years to 20 years after turning 18 or discovering the injury, whichever comes later. It would also extend the time that a victim of child pornography has to file a civil action from 3 to 20 years after turning 18. This bill passed in the Assembly and went to the Senate, which referred it to the Judiciary Committee, on April 18.
• Assembly Bill 97 – It would require that law enforcement send so-called “rape kits” (which are officially referred to as sexual assault forensic evidence, or SAFE, kits) to labs for testing within 30 days of receiving them, and that the labs conduct tests on the kits within 180 days of receiving them. The bill would also require labs to report to a legislative subcommittee on the number of kits they’ve had for more than a year that haven’t been tested.
(Related: Senate Bill 169, which creates a program for tracking SAFE kits, as well as extending penalties and lifetime supervision requirements for school employees and volunteers who commit sex crimes with students to employees and volunteers of other youth programs, such as foster homes, child welfare services and the juvenile justice court, who commit similar crimes.)
• Senate Bill 488 – It would expand the definition of sex trafficking to people who are involved in arranging for sex or pornography with a minor; for example, those who facilitate or pay for transportation, who advertise or sell travel services, and who themselves travel in order to have sex with a trafficking victim. The bill would also increase the time a sex trafficking convict can be eligible for parole from 15 to 20 years, and requires the State Health and Human Services Department to develop a Sexual Trauma Services Guide through Medicaid.
Dreitzer says all three are important pieces of legislation, but none is a make-or-break for the Rape Crisis Center. “What most affects our work happens at the local level,” she says, “like Metro partnering with us on the Stay Safe campaign, or our work with the nightlife community on our Party Smart initiative.”
One other proposal to keep your eye on, if this is an issue you care about, is Assembly Bill 247, which would allow victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and stalking to break a lease or rental agreement under certain circumstances.