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Rep.Zwiener, Erin

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Representatives Howard & Zwiener Amend House Budget to Secure Provisions for Sexual Assault Audit  print page

by: Rep. Zwiener, Erin
05/31/2019

Austin, TX — State Representatives Donna Howard (Austin) and Erin Zwiener (Driftwood) successfully amended HB 1, the state budget, to add funding for examining and investigating reported sexual assault offenses in Texas.

There is no comprehensive data for the State of Texas on how reported sexual assaults will result in prosecution. Rep. Zwiener and Rep. Howard worked together on an amendment to the budget that requires the State Auditor to conduct an audit on the disposition of sexual assault investigations. Last week, they received the good news that their amendment had made it into the final version of the Texas budget.

“We know that sexual assaults are difficult cases to investigate and prosecute,” said Rep. Zwiener. “Understanding the data will allow us to identify jurisdictions that are doing a good job and learn from them, and it will allow us to identify jurisdictions that need additional resources to be effective at pursuing sexual assault cases.

The audit requires analysis of the number of sexual assault reports that were either: (1) prosecuted as different criminal offenses, (2), closed or classified as inactive without being forwarded to the local county or district attorney, (3), not prosecuted (and the reasons why they were not prosecuted), or (4), dismissed after an indictment had been filed. It also includes a comprehensive review of the policies, practices, and actions of local government agencies on sexual assault cases. The audit will examine a five-year period from calendar years 2014-2018 and include data from city and county jurisdictions across the state.

“I want to thank Representative Howard for her help in addressing this important issue,” said Rep. Zwiener. “Her tireless efforts to keep this language in the final budget will help ensure that all sexual assault survivors have a fair shot at justice.”

Some of the language in the budget amendment was part of Rep. Zwiener’s, HB 2672, which was voted out by the House Committee on Homeland Security but was never set for a floor vote. The House and Senate passed the final version of the budget on Sunday, May 26.

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