Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Glenn Adams / The Associated Press
AUGUSTA — Survivors of domestic violence have one common wish, an advocate said today: that what happened to them doesn't happen to anyone else.
Gov. Paul LePage said the state took important steps toward making that wish a reality as he signed two more bills to prevent the crime he said has no place in Maine.
"Today, it is my hope that we come that much closer to eliminating this type of heinous crimes against family members, or loved ones," LePage said.
Surrounded by sponsors, law enforcement officials and an advocate for victims, the governor signed a bill requiring judges to deny bail when there's a danger the defendant could re-commit domestic violence. He also signed a measure that says victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking must be notified when the defendant is released on bail.
Last week, LePage signed a bill barring judges from waiving $25 fees that perpetrators in violent crimes must pay to a fund for victims. The Republican governor promised today that there would be more legislation next session addressing the problem. He foresees a bill focusing on batterers' intervention as a way to prevent abuse and violence in the home.
Julia Colpitts of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence said victims of domestic violence bring to her a common theme.
"In the midst of their profound and personal grief, they have an amazing kind of altruism. To a one, they want to be sure that what has happened to them does not happen to anybody else. The certainly want their loss to have meaning, but even more than that, they want to protect, to care for others," Colpitts said.
LePage, whose childhood was marred by domestic violence, has made the issue a high priority for his administration and has shown willingness to work with Democrats to enact laws.
"This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is a social issue that is pervasive throughout the country," LePage said. "I am very pleased to say that, for at least a very short time, Democrats and Republicans put down their ideologies and worked for the common cause of eliminating this problem in our society."
The two bills signed today were both sponsored by Democrats. Rep. Alan Casavant, the Biddeford mayor who sponsored the notification law, said he was prompted to introduce it by some of his constituents who are victims. Casavant, who taught school for 35 years, said he often saw the harm done to students who came from homes where there was violence.
Rep. Emily Cain, the House minority leader from Orono who sponsored the bail bill, said there's "no magic cure for domestic violence." But the bills signed by the governor "are a first step."