H. B. 4236
(By Delegates Fleischauer, Campbell, Pino,
Longstreth, Ellem, L. Phillips, Hunt, Poore,
Sobonya, Moore and Storch)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)
[January 31, 2014]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §15-9B-1, §15-9B-2 and §15-9B-3, all relating to establishing a regulatory system for sexual assault forensic examinations; requiring the creation of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission; setting forth its powers and responsibilities; setting forth its membership; requiring county prosecutors to convene and chair local Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Boards; and authorizing rule making.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §15-9B-1, §15-9B-2 and §15-9B-3, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9B. SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION NETWORK.
§15-9B-1. Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission.
(a) The Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency and Correction shall create the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission to establish mandatory state-wide protocols for conducting sexual assault forensic examinations, including designating locations and providers to perform forensic examinations, establishing minimum qualifications and procedures for performing forensic examinations and establishing protocols to assure the proper collection of evidence. As used in this article, the word “commission” means the “Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission.” The purpose of the commission is to establish, manage and monitor a state-wide system to facilitate the timely and efficient collection of forensic evidence. The commission shall be chaired by the director of the Division of Justice and Community Service, and will consist the following:
Persons representing the following agencies or organizations:
(1) The West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Association;
(2) The West Virginia Association of Counties;
(3) Bureau of Public Health;
(4) The State Police Crime Laboratory;
(5) The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network;
(6) The West Virginia Hospital Association;
(7) The West Virginia Foundation for Rape and Information Services;
(8) West Virginia University’s Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program; and
(9) Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center.
If any of the representative organizations listed do not continue to exist, the director may select a person from a similar organization.
The director is further authorized to appoint the following additional members of the commission, as follows:
(1) An emergency room physician;
(2) A victim advocate from a rape crisis center;
(3) A sexual assault nurse examiner;
(4) A law-enforcement officer with experience with sexual assault investigations;
(5) A healthcare provider with pediatric and child abuse expertise; and
(6) A director of a child advocacy center.
§15-9B-2. Powers and duties of the commission.
(a) The commission shall authorize the creation and oversee local boards established pursuant to section three of this article and shall approve local plans for each area of the state on a county or regional basis. If the commission deems necessary, it may add or remove a county or portion thereof from a region to assure that all areas of the state are included in an appropriate local plan. Upon the failure of any county or local region to propose a plan, the commission may implement a plan for that county or region.
(b) The commission shall authorize minimum training requirements for providers conducting exams and establish a basic standard of care for victims of sexual assault. The commission shall facilitate the recruitment and retention of qualified health care providers, that are properly qualified to conduct forensic examinations. The commission shall work with county and regional boards to identify areas of greatest need and develop and implement recruitment and retention programs to help facilitate the effective collection of evidence.
(c) The commission may adopt necessary and reasonable requirements relating to establishment of a state-wide training and forensic examination system, including, but not limited to, developing a data collection system to monitor adherence to established standards, assisting exam providers receive training and support services; advocating the fair and reasonable reimbursement to exam providers, and to facilitate transportation services for victims to get to and from designated exam locations.
(d) Once a plan is approved by the commission, it can only be amended or otherwise altered as provided by rules of the commission. Designated facilities and organizations providing services in the plan may not withdraw from participation without commission authorization. If there is a change of circumstances, that would require a change in a county or regional plan, the members of the local board and the state commission shall be notified. The local board shall meet as soon as possible to implement an alternative plan to ensure continuity of services in the county or region. The local board shall submit a revised plan for approval by the commission as soon as is practicable.
(e) The commission may propose rules for legislative approval, in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, necessary to implement this article.
§15-9B-3. Local Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Boards.
Each county prosecutor, or his or her designee, shall convene a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Board, or may as an alternative, convene and chair the sexual assault response team in the county to act as the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Board. If a regional board is authorized, all county prosecutors from the designated area shall be members of the board. The prosecutors shall assure that each board be proportionally representative of the designated region. Each board may vary in membership, but should include representatives from local health care facilities, local law enforcement, multidisciplinary investigative teams, county and municipal governments and victims advocates. Each county or regional board shall develop a local plan and protocols for the area, which will address, at a minimum, the following:
(1) Identify facilities that are appropriate for receipt and treatment of sexual assault victims;
(2) Assess and designate physicians or nurses, or both, in the area qualified to conduct forensic examinations;
(3) Evaluate the needs and available resources of the area to facilitate and encourage twenty-four hour, seven day a week coverage;
(4) If availability of services are limited, or the remoteness of the region causes lack of adequate examination facilities or personnel, the local boards may designate local government or other resources to provide appropriate transport of victims to facilities where the victim can receive a timely and appropriate forensic examination; and
(5) Develop an alternative plan in case there is a change in circumstances to ensure continuity of service.