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AZ might create state DNA database that would be mandatory for some

A small sample of DNA is added to a product gel to see if the amplification process worked Aug. 24, 2016, at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The product gel is run through an electrical current for 15 minutes to separate the DNA by size. (Senior Airman Ashlin Federick/U.S. Air Force)
February 20, 2019

A new proposed legislation in Arizona could pave the way for states to keep a vast statewide DNA database.

If Senate Bill 1475 passes, many people would be required to surrender their DNA, according to AZ Central.

Republican State Sen. David Livingston introduced the bill, which would make it mandatory for certain volunteers, those employed by the state, and even corpses from the morgue to be identified through DNA samples.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance the criminal investigation process.

A database with individual’s DNA, name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number would be kept by the Department of Public Safety.

The DNA within the database would be available for use by law enforcement, government agencies, or researchers.

There is also the chance that those who submit their DNA samples could be required to pay a $250 fee.

David Kaye, an associate dean for research at Penn State University who studies genetics and its application in law said this is the first state to take such an approach and warns that this proposed bill is very close to requiring DNA to get a driver’s license.

The current law in Arizona only requires DNA from those found guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor sex crime.

Kaye believes if the bill passes that it won’t be successful because it is not focusing on the correct group to obtain DNA from.

“It doesn’t seem like solving crimes is a big priority here. It’s not focusing on the people most likely to be linked to crimes, it’s just spreading the net more broadly,” Kaye said.

Kaye also explained that the new law could have some legal issues to face, especially where employers are federally banned from using DNA testing as a condition of employment, per the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Many people oppose the bill, including Liz Recchia, director of government affairs for the West Maricopa Association of Realtors, who advises people to “brace themselves” before considering the bill.

She said, “It isn’t very often a bill at the state Legislature affects so many Arizonan’s civil rights in such an onerous manner.”

Others who oppose the bill include the Arizona Police Association, the Arizona Mortgage Lenders Association, the Arizona Association of Realtors and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona.

SB 1475 is slated for a public hearing in front of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, a committee that Livingston chairs.