A package of three bills described as the “most comprehensive reforms of domestic violence policy in Connecticut in 25 years” made it through the Senate late Wednesday in the closing minutes of the 2010 legislative session, providing hope on many levels for domestic violence victims facing uncertain futures.
House bills 5315, 5246, and 5497 weren’t called until late Wednesday as the Senate neared its midnight deadline, leaving Rep. Mae M. Flexer, D-Killingly, on pins and needles in the House chamber downstairs. Flexer, who chairs the Speaker’s Task Force on Domestic Violence, shepherded the legislation through the House days earlier and wasn’t sure if the Senate would have time to call the bills Wednesday in the rush before the midnight deadline.
She credited cooperation among task force members for the successful passage of the bills.
“From the beginning our task force worked in a really bipartisan fashion and we were able to heighten awareness among legislators about the issues of domestic violence,” Flexer said. “And because of that we were able to garner strong support in both chambers.”
Among other things, once the governor signs the bills the legislation clarifies the difference between a protective order (which is a criminal matter) and a restraining order (civil), an also will allow judges to put protective orders in place when offenders are on probation. Further, the legislation gives the Judicial Branch a $140,000 federal grant to develop a pilot program using GPS tracking on the most high risk domestic violence offenders.