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'Melissa's Law' on testing backlogged rape kits faces House vote

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SALEM, Ore. - House lawmakers are set to take up a bill that could help protect rape victims in the state of Oregon.

Currently there are more than 5,000 untested rape kits sitting on evidence shelves across the state.

Senate Bill 1571, also called "Melissa's Law," is aimed at changing that.

The bill was inspired by the case of 14-year-old Melissa Bittler, who was attacked and killed in 2001.

SB-1571 would require Oregon's police departments to test every kit that is currently backlogged in the system. It would also set up a system so there is oversight and accountability.

Other states that have passed similar laws have been successful, in some cases getting serial rapists off the streets.

Bittler's family testified in front of the Oregon Senate, saying Melissa's killer would have never attacked her because he would have been behind bars if rape kits in two other cases were processed.

The Senate passed the bill 28-0 on Friday. It now heads to the house Wednesday morning.

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