DNA database bill would cost state, cities millions




    Proposed legislation that would create a state database from DNA from sexual assault kits using a new form of DNA testing would cost the Arizona Department of Public Safety up to $2.3 million annually and would cost cities an unknown amount of money, legislative budget analysts say.

    The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Livingston, R-Peoria, faced initial controversy due to its wide scope, which would have had any person who applied for fingerprint clearance submit their DNA into the database. That would have included any person in Arizona who works with children, among others.

    Livingston has since narrowed its scope to focus only on sexual assault kits.

    An analysis by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee released Thursday concluded that the costs for creating the mandated database and the additional staff required for DPS to collect the DNA data would cost the agency $1.5 million annually.

    In a separate report, DPS estimated the cost at $2.3 million.

    Part of the cost comes from hiring seven new employees who would have to create and maintain the new database, as well as providing the rapid DNA testing that the bill specifically mandates.

    The money would likely have to come from the state’s general fund or DPS’s forensic fund. DPS has already requested around $22 million for its forensic fund in fiscal year 2020.

    The discrepancy between DPS’s and JLBC’s analyses comes from DPS assuming it would be testing a backlog of sexual assault kits. The agency also adds in assumptions about the number of kits it will analyze in the future.

    Cities that have their own crime labs could also need to provide additional funding if the bill is passed.

    The City of Phoenix estimates an additional $1.4 million in costs annually, based on an estimate of 912 sexual assault kits per year using the rapid DNA test at a cost of $1,523 per kit, plus the cost of the equipment.

    Mesa also estimated additional costs at $230,000 annually for the 155 sexual assault kits it assumed it will test.

    However, both Phoenix and Mesa had different estimates of the per-kit costs of testing, and both were higher than what DPS estimated.

    Phoenix and Mesa both only estimated these costs if local governments were made to implement the rapid DNA testing as well, but JLBC and DPS both assume that DPS would become the central repository for doing the new testing.

    Livingston’s bill originated with a Colorado-based genetics company. The company, ANDE, does rapid genetic testing, something that the bill emphasizes would be used. Currently, ANDE is the only company accredited by the FBI to do this type of testing.

    Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
    Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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