With support from Kentucky's governor and legislative leaders in both chambers, the dating violence bill is heading to the House floor. Final passage appears more likely than ever.
Efforts to extend civil protections to dating couples in Kentucky began some six legislative sessions ago. Prior to the bill's first committee hearing, Governor Beshear predicted the measure would pass. "For several sessions we have been discussing these protections, this session, we're gonna pass a bill," said Beshear.
Current law allows emergency protective orders for people living together or for those who have a child in common. First Lady Jane Beshear recounted stories she has heard from dating victims of domestic violence. "These stories were sadly similar, each of them had been caught in unhealthy relationships that evolved in emotional, financial, and eventually physical abuse," said Jane Beshear.
Similar bills have passed the Democratic-led House during previous sessions, but eventually failed in the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate President Robert Stivers says he thinks this year could be different.
Carol Jordan has advocated for dating violence legislation in Kentucky for about 30 years. She says the measure will likely go through some changes before passage but she's not concerned about substantive amendments. "It would not be surprising to me that kind of exchange would continue, and there may be some tweaks. I'm not panicked about that at all," said Jordan.
A University of Kentucky study found half of the women surveyed who had received a protective order said they experienced no violation of the order six months after obtaining it.