Making changes in national law to protect victim/survivors of domestic violence!




Crew –

I realize I usually send you information regarding the Texas legislative process and so you may be surprised to see an email and an action alert from me especially because the Texas legislature will not be in session until January 2013. This email relates to important efforts TCFV and our partners have taken on at the federal level.

For the past year, Congress has been working on the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA is a coordinated civil and criminal legal and direct services approach that has worked for over almost two decades. In 2011 alone, Texas received $8.8 million in grants that help communities all over the state take violence against women seriously. I myself served as a VAWA-funded prosecutor and so saw the direct impact to our efforts at keeping vicitms safe and holding offenders accountable.

Bottom line: VAWA represents the federal government’s robust, comprehensive and successful approach to addressing intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Congressional authorization of VAWA must be renewed from time to time and in fact the authorization for the past cycle expired almost two years ago. TCFV has been participating and monitoring the progress of Reauthorization, including getting into the details of the various bills and offering direct feedback to national partners and the Texas elected delegation. Whereas in the previous two cycles of VAWA Reauthorization the bill drew no opposition, this time around Congress has not come to consensus as easily.

The good news is that the Senate has already passed S.1925; this bill represents the most thoroughly vetted and bipartisan approach to Reauthorization. TCFV supports S.1925 and asks that you do so as well. If you would like to appraise the bill yourself, you can find the full text at The bill passed the Senate by a margin on 68-31.

The House has also taken up the measure with its HR 4970. Although the House version contains significant components of S.1925, it also omits and incorporates different provisions that will harm victims and their service provision. Among several areas of concern are the significant erosion of protection for immigrant victims of violence and the increase of bureaucracy and resulting expense that would come from direct victim services funding. If you are interested, here is the entire bill –

Two important steps in the process most likely will occur this week. First, the powerful House Rules Committee will determine this Tuesday how the debate will occur when the overall House votes on the bill. The Rules Committee will decide whether members will be allowed to offer changes to the bill and even whether debate on the bill can occur on the House floor. TCFV calls for the inclusion of amendments that protect vulnerable immigrant victims and others, a debate of the bill on the House floor and allowing the introduction of amendments during the debate.

Second, the bill will go to the full House for a vote. In preparation for that vote, TCFV calls on Texas House members to support changes to HR4970 that conform with S.1925 to the greatest extent possible.

In service of these goals, TCFV continues to work with our Congressional partners to offer solutions regarding the provisions. This is where you can help.

We have drafted the attached letter that you can use to communicate your support for S.1925 and the needed changes to HR 4970; Texas family violence programs, their boards and community partners will be particularly impactful, but contacts from others will also help. Because time is of the essence, we ask that you make contact today and do so by email rather than a traditional letter. TCFV makes careful and strategic decisions about how often and in what manner to call on programs and supporters to make this kind of outreach. We ask for you to do so because we judge this stage and this approach to be key in the VAWA Reauthorization process.

Do you know who represents you in Congress? Find out at

In addition to your elected members, also consider including:
-Chairman Lamar Smith, who leads the Judiciary Committee (
-Congressman Pete Sessions, who serves on the Rules Committee (

I have also attached a fact sheet which highlights some key areas of HR 4970 that we ask the House to change.

After the House completes it work on VAWA Reauthorization, the Senate and the House would then need to convene a Conference Committee comprised of Senate and House members to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. Following that conference committee work, the resulting bill would then return to both chambers for their ratification. These will also be important steps and as such TCFV will communicate with you in a strategic manner and at strategic points along the way.

Questions? I am happy to speak with you on VAWA or any topic. See below for my card with my cell number.

Cheers –


First of several domestic violence-related bills passes Maine Legislature (reposted)

First of several domestic violence-related bills passes Maine Legislature

By Alex Barber, BDN Staff
Posted April 01, 2012, at 8:16 p.m.
Print this   E-mail this    Facebook this   Tweet this   

Paul LePage

Pat Wellenbach | AP
Paul LePage

AUGUSTA, Maine — The first of several bills introduced in the past few months aimed at curbing domestic violence in the state passed in the senate on Thursday and will be on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk for his signature this week.

LD 1841, the governor’s bill that was sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, is an act to ensure funding for the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

“These domestic violence bills highlight what can be accomplished for the people of Maine when Republicans and Democrats — legislators and advocates alike — come together,” said Adrienne Bennett, press secretary to Gov. LePage. “The governor applauds the efforts of Representatives [Emily] Cain, [D-Orono], and Fredette for their leadership. All of the domestic violence-related bills this session are important for the safety and well-being of victims and the governor looks forward to signing each one.”

The bill prohibits a court from waiving the $25 assessment on a person convicted of murder or a Class A, B or C crime and $10 on a person convicted of a Class D or E crime. Those assessments are used for the Victims’ Compensation Fund.

“Tragedies stemming from domestic violence are becoming more prevalent in Maine,” said Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, in a statement. “[Thursday] we took a good step forward in making sure that the Victims’ Compensation Fund is preserved and available to the victims and family members of violent crime.”

In addition to LD 1841, other bills related to domestic violence have passed through the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in recent months.

The bills came largely in response to the murder of Amy Lake and her two children, Coty and Monica, by her estranged husband last year.

Lake and her two children were murdered by Steven Lake on June 13, 2011, in Dexter. Steven previously had been charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and domestic violence criminal threatening against his wife.

Mason, who is the chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said he is proud to have worked on so many bills regarding domestic violence.

“I think we did some good work this year,” Mason told the Bangor Daily News on Friday. “The members of the committee worked really, really hard to make sure this was something we were all really comfortable with and we could get behind to the best of our ability.”

LD 1704, which would have amended Maine’s bail code to protect domestic violence victims, sponsored by Fredette, was killed because another of the governor’s bills, LD 1867, was very similar, said Mason.

LD 1867, sponsored by Cain, calls for bail of a person charged with a crime involving domestic violence be set by a judge and not a bail commissioner. It also requires a judge to deny bail in certain circumstances.

“Bail is a very important fundamental right in our judicial system. We take it very seriously,” said Mason. “Domestic violence is a very serious thing and we have to make sure justice is handed out properly.”

LD 1760 requires notification to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking when defendants are released on bail.

“When someone is released out on bail when accused of domestic violence, sometimes they get bailed within hours [of the crime]. When they do get out, it’s usually not a good thing for that person to return home and to return in the situation they were,” said Mason. “We need to make sure the [victim] knew that person was out on bail.”

Of those bills, only LD 1841 has passed through the House and Senate.

“Everything’s been voted out of committee. Not everything has made it downstairs yet,” said Mason.

We begin.. March 2012

We are fascilitating a voice to change established State laws to the national level through awareness to the masses about the issues surrounding domestic violence victims and survivors, which are trying to make a movement to provide guidance from the national level in helping to better protect the victims and survivors of domestic violence. Guest bloggers, who are already domestic violence advocates and/or already experts in the field of domestic violence laws and the need for change to incur to better protect all victims and survivors in the future, will also provide input to help provide further structure and guidance in advocating for changes. Enjoy and be prepared to be informed, have continued education on these issues and receive call to actions as we proceed with our efforts! We encourage victims and survivors to provide input through the comment and/or occasional guest blogging.

Heather Piedmont, Policy Director &
Kathryn Krastin, Advocacy Director & Technical Support


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.