OKLAHOMA CITY – The full Senate has approved legislation to create a statewide sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) coordinator. Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, is the author of SB 993 which she says will ensure greater access to nurses who have specialized training for conducting exams following sexual assaults.
Another measure by Floyd, SB 1000 was also approved by the full Senate, and would allow the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) to inquire about the location of rape kits that have not yet been submitted to an accredited crime laboratory.
The Senate approved both bills unanimously on Thursday.
Floyd said a statewide SANE coordinator would help ensure Oklahoma has uniform procedures for training nurses throughout the state.
“A statewide coordinator will ensure best practices are being used for these exams, and it will give more sexual assault victims access to nurses who are uniquely qualified to treat a very vulnerable patient group. SANE nurses are trained to avoid further traumatizing individuals as they work to help collect critical forensic evidence,” Floyd said. “This position would be particularly important in rural Oklahoma. These are parts of the state that may not have nurses with this specialized training, so in order to be seen by a SANE nurse, they have to travel several hours. Having more well-trained SANE nurses will help us better assist sexual assault victims throughout our state.”
This legislation is part of Floyd’s ongoing work with the state’s Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Task Force. She said the proposed SANE coordinator position would be funded through federal grants, so no state appropriations would be needed.
SB 1000 is a continuation of the SAFE Task Force’s efforts to address Oklahoma’s backlog in untested rape kits. Floyd said currently, the OSBI is in charge of the chain of custody of these kits. The kits, which have tracking information, are provided to SANE nurses for the collection of evidence from sexual assault survivors. The kits are then collected by law enforcement where they are held until they can be sent to a lab.
“This bill allows the OSBI to inquire about a kit that has not yet been submitted. They can follow up with a call to the law enforcement agency to inquire about the location and custody of the kit,” Floyd said. “SB 1000 also clarifies the law enforcement agency can indeed provide this information to the OSBI, so that the kits can then be processed.”
Both measures now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration. SB 993 will be carried by principal House author, Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa. The House principal author for SB 1000 is Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami.