Governor Paul R. LePage
|February 24, 2012||
Radio Address: The Importance of Domestic Violence Related Legislation
February 24, 2012
Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
It’s no surprise with 185 members of the Legislature and thousands of bills winding through the process each year that the law of unintended consequences plays a role. That is, the actions of people – especially in government – always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.
However, there are a series of bills that have been introduced this session, some perhaps, if not passed, that could have a far more profound effect on our State.
This past week, I released my domestic abuse related legislation which includes two bills. Legislators have introduced seven bills relating to issues of domestic violence as well.
So while unintended consequences are factors when considering legislation, it is clear we must act. There are steps government can take to ensure safety among victims and discourage this despicable behavior from abusers.
First, the Maine bail code must be strengthened. Our current bail code law is too lenient. We must hold convicted offenders accountable for their actions.
My bill makes a number of changes to the bail code including requiring that bail must be determined by a judge, not a bail commissioner. This would apply to cases of crimes involving domestic violence in which an aggravated assault, a sexual assault, a violation of a protection order or the strangulation of another person has been charged by a law enforcement officer.
This bill also improves the law as it relates to violations of protection of abuse orders. If a protection order is violated there will be tougher consequences for offenders and jail time will be served.
The second bill I have put forth relates to the Maine Victims’ Compensation Fund, which is administered by the Attorney General’s Office. The fund provides financial reimbursement for victims of violent crime and their families.
The bill ensures money for the Victims’ Compensation Fund is collected. Currently, when an offender is sentenced or a fine is imposed, the court requires the offender pay a fee. However, in some cases, the fee is suspended by judges. The bill amends the law prohibiting the court under any circumstance to waive the charge.
Additionally, I have signed an executive order. It creates a task force that will explore ways to use technologies to track domestic violence offenders. I have also asked the group to learn more about electronic assistance services for victims which allow them to contact help in an emergency.
Every year we lose too many lives at the hands of domestic violence. We must find ways to protect those in harm’s way as best we can.
Our action today, and eventually the passage of this domestic violence legislation will have a profound impact on victims and help prevent tragedies.
I commend legislators who have focused on the importance of this issue because the consequences of not doing anything create a far greater threat to society. It’s time we break the silence and implement meaningful change which has the potential to save lives.
I would also like to acknowledge the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and its efforts to raise awareness. For the past several months, the Coalition has partnered with the University of Maine Black Bears, specifically the “Male Athletes Against Violence” group on the Orono campus. Athletes have been involved in creating a statewide public awareness campaign to end dating violence.
I want to thank all University of Maine male athletes who are stepping up to the plate because domestic abuse is not only a women’s issue. It’s one all men can help to eliminate with a unified message.
Maine Boys to Men is another great example of an organization that is reaching our younger generation through positive messaging and the Maine National Guard is a tremendous advocate as well.
Through communication, together, we can make domestic violence socially unacceptable.
I encourage you to speak out too because the power of your voice will make a difference.
Thank you for listening. My wife Ann and I hope you have a happy and safe weekend.