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Kentucky House OKs Extending Domestic Violence Protections

A bill that would give victims of dating violence increased protections passed the House on Thursday evening.

The bill, which has the support of the Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, passed the House unanimously.

But Rep. Donna Mayfield, a Republican from Winchester, expressed concern about the bill, saying that the present system already protects victims.

“I just fear that this opens the floodgates to some situations that may dilute the purity of this situation, the way that we have it in the courts right now,” Mayfield said.

“I’m afraid that those people who desperately need our protection are going to be put in the same pool as a middle school couple, perhaps, that has had a spat.”

Present law only allows individuals who are married, cohabitate or have a child with an abuser file protective orders. The new law would extend that power to those in dating relationships.

Rep. John Tilley, a Hopkinsville Democrat,  sponsored the bill.

He said being able to file a restraining order would allow victims to protect themselves swiftly, as opposed to pressing criminal charges.

“Because as a prosecutor, I can tell you [the criminal justice system] doesn’t move that quickly,” Tilley said. “It can last for a year, likely two, maybe three and through a jury trial where she has to sit in front of a jury and tell that story all over again.”