MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A bill pushed by a Memphis lawmaker that would require rape kits to be tested within 30 days did not receive funding in the governor’s proposed state budget Tuesday.

That means HB104, sponsored by Antonio Parkinson, is dead, according to House Democrats. The bill had previously been recommended for passage by the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee.

Parkinson (D-Memphis) said a similar bill he backed in 2014 suffered the same fate.

“Honestly what it looks like to me is that again, there was no will to make this a priority, to make funding rape kits a priority in the Tennessee legislature. That’s it, plain and simple,” Parkinson said.  

It currently takes months in many cases for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to test rape kit evidence. The delay has been reported by WREG for years, and the problem came to light last year after the murder of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher.

Fletcher’s alleged killer, Cleotha Abston, had been linked to an earlier rape case, but the evidence in that case sat untested.

Parkinson said if the rape kit had been tested in a timely manner, it’s possible that Henderson would have been incarcerated and unable to abduct and murder Fletcher. 

“I am completely disappointed in the lack of action on the part of the Tennessee legislature to fund getting rape kits tested in 30 days,” Parkinson said in a statement. “This is an exact repeat of what took place in 2014. Our inaction in 2014, played a part in the death of Eliza Fletcher. This is a slap in the face to all victims of rape in our state. We put $250 million into the rainy day fund that put us over $2 billion dollars. But we wouldn’t fund $5 million to test rape kits in 30 days. We can do better.”

Parkinson said the state is not doing its part in preventing another tragedy like that from happening again. 

“We have a duty to protect the citizens of Tennessee and we are failing miserably when it comes to protecting our citizens,” he said.

Parkinson said he seemed to have a lot of support for this bill, and when he asked why it was excluded from the budget, he was given a bunch of excuses that he says don’t make sense. 

“As time goes on, their energy and their zeal to get something done apparently waned, and it’s unfortunate that we’re here in the same exact posture that actually added to Eliza Fletcher not being here anymore,” he said.  

Parkinson said this just means he’ll have to try again because he won’t stop until he feels everything is done to keep Tennesseans safe. 

“Until we pass the budget, until we wrap session up, I will use every single second, every opportunity that I have, every procedure that I have at my hands, to be able to make this thing work and to try to fix it,” he said.