Bill extending domestic violence protection to dating partners clears House panel

01/08/2014 05:39 PM

A bill to extend domestic violence protections to Kentuckians in dating relationships cleared a House panel unanimously Wednesday — a day after Gov. Steve Beshear lent his voice to the effort in his State of the Commonwealth Address.

The legislation is a top priority for Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and Tilley has been working with Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, to address the issue in both chambers.

Kentucky is one of the only states that does not afford dating partners the ability to allow a girlfriend or boyfriend to get a civil domestic violence protection orders from the court against his or her significant other.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told reporters after the State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday that the system already has a way to go after someone who is being abusive in a dating relationship, for instance, with a restraining order. But that requires a different standard than a civil protective order.

Rape victim and advocate Meghan Wright told lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that she could not get a protective order against the man by whom she was raped while she was a student at a Kentucky college.

Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins of Shively, who has carried the legislation in previous sessions, told the panel that fears of malicious reporting could be a consequence of the law, but that it shouldn’t deter the General Assembly.

“Yes, there will be people that because, they are so mean, or for whatever reason will perhaps use this in some way in retaliation against somebody. But do we really want all the other many victims to be penalized because some people can’t play by the rules? I don’t think so,” Jenkins said.

The legislation moved on to a vote the House floor for a full vote by the body.


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