State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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In DNA debate, Senate GOP leader dismisses funding concerns

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 17, 2013 10:53 PM
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One of the top Republicans in the state Senate is dismissing the Pennsylvania State Police's warnings that expanding D-N-A collection would require more funding.

State police have told lawmakers their agency will need more money to implement legislation that would expand the workload for public labs processing DNA analysis requests.

But GOP Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who authored the measure, is second-guessing their concern.

"I've heard requests for more funding by the staff that operates our forensic laboratories," Pileggi said in an interview Wednesday. "I'm not certain that their analysis is the most unbiased analysis as to how much additional funding they would need."

The legislation would allow law enforcement to collect DNA from people arrested for serious crimes before they're convicted. Right now, samples can only be taken post-conviction. State police told a House committee last week that dealing with the expected surge in analysis requests would cost as much as $7 million a year, not including the time and money it would take to build a new laboratory to handle the additional work.

Pileggi said such concerns shouldn't stymie the bill, which passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"Everyone agrees that utilization of this technology prevents serious sexual offenses, serious assaults, and homicides. Everyone agrees with that," Pileggi said. "So how to put a price tag on that, I don't even think that's a conversation that we should be having."

The measure is expected to get a vote in a House committee this week.

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