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HOUSTON Four companies will be hired to process a backlog of about 4,000 rape kits and other evidence untested by the Houston police crime lab.

The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved $4.2 million in laboratory agreements for three years. About $475,000 has been allocated for the current fiscal year.

Mayor Annise Parker says it is hard to feel encouraged about something that has taken so long to resolve and so many millions of tax dollars, but progress is being made.

The city in October announced plans for a $1.3 million upgrade for the understaffed lab.
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