News

Round-Up of New State Laws

May 13, 2010

State legislatures around the country are wrapping up legislative sessions and sending bills to governors to be signed. This year states have passed many bills address dating, domestic and sexual violence. The following are some of the new laws.

Colorado

Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 80 on April 12. The new law fills a gap between civil and criminal law to include family pets under Colorado’s protection orders. Representative Jerry Frangas, one of the new law’s chief sponsors, said “By legally protecting animals, we decrease the use of a common manipulative tactic used by domestic violence abusers in the coercion of his/her partner. For many of us, pets are part of our families, and clarifying the law to protect them makes sense and is the right thing to do.”

Indiana

On April 12, Governor Mitch Daniels hosted a ceremonial signing of “Heather’s Law,” which requires the Indiana Department of Education to develop teen dating violence educational materials and model dating violence response and reporting policies. “Heather’s Law” is named after Heather Norris, who was killed by her estranged high school boyfriend in 2007. After Heather’s death, her mother, Debbie Norris, created a website www.heathersvoice.net and began advocating for Indiana to adopt a dating violence law.

Iowa

Governor Chet Culver signed legislation on March 22 that will help protect Iowa families by taking guns out of the hands of abusers. Senate File 2357 prohibits a person who has been convicted of a domestic abuse crime, or is subject to a permanent civil protection order, from possessing firearms or other offensive weapons. “It is our duty to do whatever we can to keep Iowa families safe, and this common-sense legislation provides an important tool to do so,” Governor Culver said. “I am proud to sign this bill in the name of all who have suffered at the hands of domestic abusers, and in the memory of all who have sadly lost their lives.”

Kentucky

On April 14, the Kentucky General Assembly and Senate passed “Amanda’s Bill” a measure that would allow authorities to attach GPS monitors to suspected abusers who have violated domestic violence orders. The bill is named after Amanda Ross, who was murdered outside her home last year; former State Representative Steve Nunn has been arrested and charged in her killing. Governor Steve Beshear called for lawmakers to pass the measure in his State of the Commonwealth address in January and signed the legislation on April 28.

New Hampshire

Governor John Lynch signed legislation making attempted strangulation a felony on May 4. The bill (HB 1634) quickly moved through the state legislature after the story of Melissa Cantin Charbonneau made headlines last November. Cantin Charbonneau was shot to death by her husband two days after he was arrested for choking her and released on $30 bail, the Manchester Union Leader reports. The new law will make strangulation a second-degree assault, which is a felony that can carry prison time. It takes effect on January 1.

New York

In April, Governor David Paterson signed a law allowing victims of domestic violence to cast special ballots in an election if they leave their residence because of domestic violence. Earlier this month, Governor Paterson signed a law that authorizes courts to order that voter registration records of victims of domestic violence be kept confidential in certain cases.

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