House Representative

Howard, Donna

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/12/2017

Rep. Donna Howard Passes Legislation for Nurses and Survivors of Sexual Assault

Lawmaker's Bills Would Provide for Grants to Prevent Violence in the Health Care Workplace and Set Up a Confidential System for Tracking Rape Kits

AUSTIN - Today, the Texas House of Representatives finally passed two bills authored by Representative Donna Howard. HB 280 would establish a grant program to fund innovative approaches for reducing violence against nurses, and HB 281 would establish a secure and confidential tracking system for rape kits.

"Today's passage of HB 280 will hopefully lead to statewide innovative violence prevention efforts, protecting nurses and other health care workers, as well as patients and their families," Rep. Howard said. "Nurses take care of us—now we're taking care of nurses."

Violence is a common workplace hazard for nurses and other health care workers, posing a threat to both caregivers and patients alike and complicating the delivery of treatment. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the health care sector led all other sectors in the incidence of non-fatal workplace assaults and nurses are the most likely of health care workers to be assaulted. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an average of 17 Registered Nurses are killed while on duty each year.

Rep. Howard's second bill of the day, HB 281, would establish a secure, confidential tracking system for rape kits. This idea was brought to the Representative by a constituent, a survivor of sexual assault who expressed frustration with not knowing where her evidence was in the process. In researching and crafting the bill, entities that process the information informed Rep. Howard that this type of tracking system would be also immensely helpful in preventing the loss of evidence.

"It is not uncommon for survivors of sexual assault to feel as if they have lost control," Rep. Howard said. "This convenient online tracker stands to give them a small piece of control in at least knowing the status of their evidence, and will help foster trust between themselves and the systems involved."

"I look forward to the swift movement of both bills through the Senate and onto the Governor's desk," Rep. Howard closed.

CONTACT: Scott M. Daigle