FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The latest version of legislation seeking to extend domestic-violence protective orders to people whose dating relationships turn violent won approval from a Kentucky House committee on Wednesday.
Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said that broadening the list of people eligible for protective orders to keep their abusers away would shield young women, who are at greatest risk of dating violence.
Due to the current gaps in the law, "we're not offering the protection ... to the most vulnerable population," said Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which approved the bill.
The measure now goes to the full House, where a similar version passed last year. Its prospects are more uncertain in the Senate, where last year's proposal stalled.
"I know there are protections out there, and that is a warrant of arrest," Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Tuesday when asked about extending domestic-violence protections to dating partners.
"So is there a need for them to go get an EPO (emergency protective order) or DVO (domestic violence orders)? No, there's not," he added.
Currently, protective orders can be granted when violence occurs among married and divorced couples, couples who live together and those who have children.
Gov. Steve Beshear used his annual State of the Commonwealth speech Tuesday night to endorse applying the state's protective-order law to dating couples who don't live together.
"Violence is violence and abuse is abuse, whether you're in a married relationship or a dating relationship," the Democratic governor said.
He said Kentucky is "way behind the times" in offering the protection to dating couples.
The bill's definition of a dating relationship includes a relationship "of a romantic or intimate nature" that existed within the past three years of when the order is sought.
Protective orders would enhance the safety of women who are victims of date-related assaults, said Carol Jordan, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women. That violence makes young women more likely to struggle in school and even drop out, she said.
"A civil protective order can increase the safety of dating violence victims. It can allow them to stay in school. It can help keep their lives intact," she said.
The legislation is House Bill 8.