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State approves legislation to help victims of dating violence

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureua Chief Published: March 5, 2017 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House moved legislation Feb. 28 that would enable victims of dating violence to seek protection orders against their attackers.

HB 1 passed on a vote of 92-2 and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

In tearful comments from the floor, Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), a primary co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, referenced the recent killing of Brittany Littlejohn in Akron.

"She was one of my constituents until she was shot by her boyfriend several times on Feb. 21," Sykes said. "Yesterday, Brittany's family laid her to rest, and they have mourned her death and they will continue to lift up her legacy and her memory, and I will do the same."

Victims of domestic already are able to seek court-issued civil protection orders, but the current definition in state law does not include dating violence. HB 1 adds the later to state code and outlines the court procedures for obtaining protection orders in such cases.

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Additionally, the legislation would require the attorney general's office to include information about dating violence protection orders in pamphlets outlining the rights of crime victims that are distributed to victims and their family members and dependents.

Ohio is one of two states that do not extend protection orders in cases of dating violence, Sykes said.

"I hope that you will stand with me in supporting HB 1 to support victims of dating violence across the state and ensure that no one has to bury a child, no one has to bury their mother, no one has to bury a friend, because this state has done absolutely everything that we could to protect victims of dating violence," she said.

Comparable legislation was approved by the House on a comparable vote last session but was not finalized before the end of the year. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) said earlier this year that the legislation was a priority for the chamber, making it the first bill introduced in the Ohio House this session.

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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