Kentucky House Passes DNA Testing Plan for Criminals, Coal Scholarship Fund

Feb 22, 2013

The Kentucky House has passed a bill that would require police to take DNA samples from people they arrest on felony charges.

The vote was 68 to 27 Thursday. The bill will proceed to the Senate for consideration.

If the measure becomes law, Kentucky would join the federal government and 25 states that take DNA samples from felony arrestees. The U.S. Supreme Court this year will consider the constitutionality of the testing based on a Maryland case.

Louisville Democrat Mary Lou Marzian, who sponsored the bill, has said federal grants would help cover startup costs of $1.3 million to $1.6 million. She did not offer a figure for ongoing costs. Defense lawyers and other groups have said the bill would threaten a defendant's rights.

Coal Region Scholarship Bill Passes, Too

The House also passed a bill that would make college students from the coalfields eligible for special scholarships.

The Thursday vote was unanimous. The bill will now proceed to the Senate for consideration.

Democratic state Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville, the bill's sponsor, said the scholarships of up to $6,600 a year would be available only to college juniors and seniors in 34 counties.

The initiative is a compromise that came from a failed push last year to create a four-year public university in the Appalachian coalfields. Lawmakers saw that proposal, intended to boost the number of college graduates in the coalfields, as too expensive considering Kentucky's tight state budget.

The money for the scholarships will come from a tax on mined coal.