DENVER—Congressman Scott Tipton announced Friday that he will co-sponsor a federal version of the Colorado statute known as Katie’s Law.
Katie’s Law is named after Katie Sepich, a young woman who was raped and murdered in 2003 in Las Cruces, N.M., and encourages authorities to collect DNA from individuals who are arrested for, charged with or indicted for crimes involving murder, manslaughter, sexual assaults, and kidnapping or abduction.
The enhanced federal version of the law would incentivize states to participate in the program, expanding the size of the National DNA Index System (NDIS) and increasing its effectiveness. Currently, 26 states, including Colorado, have passed Katie’s Law or similar programs.
“I hope to further strengthen the impact of Katie’s Law by bringing it to a national scale and encouraging additional states to participate,” Tipton said. “This common-sense measure will aid law enforcement in tracking down dangerous criminals, protecting our women and children, and preventing future crimes from being committed.”
The timing of the announcement comes as Tipton faces a vigorous reelection fight against former Democratic state House Minority Leader Sal Pace in the 3rd congressional district. Pace opposed the bill when it was introduced in 2009.
“What we’re presuming [with Katie’s Law] is a presumption of guilt until proven innocent,” Pace told the Associated Press in 2009.
Despite Pace’s criticisms of the bill, Katie’s Law has received overwhelming bipartisan support nationally, passing in the House by a vote of 357 to 32 in 2010, but died before a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Several prominent political figures, including President Obama and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett to President Obama, have previously come out in support of the bill.
“It’s disgusting that Sal Pace put violent sexual predators ahead of the safety of Colorado’s women and children,” Tyler Q. Houlton, President of Compass Colorado, said. “Pace fought tooth-and-nail, alongside liberal special interests, to kill a bill that has been extremely successful in putting serial sexual predators behind bars.”
Authorities were able to find Katie Sipech’s killer through DNA residue found under her fingernails, which motivated her parents to become advocates for legislature that expanded the use of DNA in solving and preventing crimes.
“I’m encouraged with the progress that we are making toward a federal Katie’s Law thanks to the efforts of Sen. Schumer, Rep. Schiff, Rep. Reichert, and Rep. Tipton,” said Jayann Sepich, Katie’s mother. “We take fingerprints when someone is arrested. We take mug shots. But in many states, we still don’t take DNA—the most accurate, powerful scientific tool available.”