CHARLESTON, W.Va. The effort to expand the state DNA data base is moving on the senate side after a measure in the House of Delegates died after a vote of 66-30 in late January.

Under current state law, DNA samples are taken from anyone convicted of a felony and select misdemeanors.

House Bill 4627 would have broadened the law to include DNA cheek swabs for adults arrested on felony charges of violence against someone, a burglary, or a case involving a minor. Each sample would be sent to the state crime lab, and the results would also be held in an FBI database. If the person is found not guilty or the charges are dropped, the person accused would have to petition the court to have the sample removed.

“My bill attempts to strike a compromise where if someone is arrested and then indicted, that opens the door for us to be able to collect that DNA evidence,” Oliverio said.

On MetroNews “Talkline,” sponsor of Senate Bill 556, Mike Oliverio (R, Monongalia, 13), said the goal is to have and maintain a reliable data base to provide to law enforcement to improve their ability to solve crimes.

“We’ll be able to take DNA samples from a slightly broader group of people and be able to be more effective in solving crimes, and that’s the goal,” said Oliverio.

Senate Bill 556 adds the indictment requirement and contains automatic provisions to discard samples from people who are found to be innocent or the charges dropped in an incident.

“If they’ve been arrested for a violent crime, particularly those crimes of domestic violence, and then have been indicted,” Oliverio said, “And even in that case, if the person is cleared, that DNA sample is expunged and removed from the database.”

During debate for Senate Bill 556, a female college student who was raped in her dorm room testified, and the investigation remained unresolved for years. The suspect in that case was finally sent to trial and was convicted with the help of a DNA sample from outside West Virginia.

“Had we not had a process like that in place for that case, not only would that person have gone free, but that person would have very likely gone on to rape and harm others,” Oliverio said.

Privacy concerns have been a major stumbling block, but Oliverio said the federal protocols are durable and have worked without a breach for many years.

“In the decades it has existed, there has never been a breach of the data,” Oliverio said. “So, somebody who has privacy concerns is certainly warranted, but there is no evidence to suggest that is in fact a concern.”

Senate Bill 556 has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.