In a state like Georgia, progressive wins can seem too few and far between. But State Rep. Scott Holcomb and Sen. Elena Parent fought hard to address the state’s backlog of untested rape kits and they won, with the help of survivors, advocates, Samantha Bee and progressives like you.
In 2016, it came to light that there was a breakdown in the process of handling rape kits, and thousands were left untested, stored in hospitals and other facilities. To be precise, there were more than 4,200 rape kits — a backlog that would take six years to clear — when members of the legislature set out to address this issue.
Although this seems like an issue everyone would easily support, Sen. Renee Unterman blocked the bill going forward in the Senate. In an a totally mind-boggling move, she used her power as Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to prevent the bill from moving through the Senate, despite the bill’s broad, bi-partisan support.
But, Rep. Holcomb, the bill’s sponsor got help from Sen. Parent to get the bill passed on the last day of the legislative session earlier this year. Parent offered up one of her own bills that the pair could use to advance the issue, despite Unterman’s staunch opposition.
To support the efforts of Holcomb and Parent, Better Georgia’s mobilized its progressive army to call on Unterman to stop blocking the commonsense measure. Better Georgia also worked with Samantha Bee, who produced a segment for Full Frontal that was instrumental in bringing awareness to this issue and harnessing progressive energy to help turn the tides in the fight.
As Holcomb shared on Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal (who seems to have a knack for picking up on Georgia’s bad news), “It was an example of, I think, how people can come together to make a different, and to fix a very bad problem. And we did it. We did it across party lines, and we did it in a relentless way, where we never gave up. And I’m really proud of that.”
Working together, it’s possible to re-shape policy for the better. Hard working advocates both at the state capitol and in our communities help secure progressive wins to build a better state for all Georgians. Here at Better Georgia, we are so grateful for the hard work for Holcomb and Parent, and all the advocates who worked behind the scenes, to secure this small victory for survivors of rape and sexual assault in this state.