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Domestic violence bill killed in committee

March 04, 1998|By GUY FLETCHER

Domestic violence bill killed in committee

ANNAPOLIS - A Maryland House of Delegates committee has killed legislation supporters said would have put more teeth into protective court orders issued in domestic violence cases.

Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, the bill's sponsor, had a similar bill defeated last year in the House Judiciary Committee.

"I'm surprised. I think this is probably one of those issues that won't pass into law until you have a very high-visibility tragedy," he said Tuesday.

Under the legislation, a person who killed someone who had sought a protective order against them automatically would have faced a first-degree murder charge.

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Some committee members said the legislation wasn't needed because the current law allows for first-degree charges in domestic violence killings.

Others expressed concern that under the bill, accidental deaths could be deemed first-degree murder.

Poole's unsuccessful argument was that the bill is needed because many women feel protective orders have limited powers, especially in rural areas where police often are far away.

"It may not be that significant if you live next to the police precinct house, but if you live in Knoxville and the police are 25 minutes away, it's a big issue," he said.

Another county lawmaker also saw a legislative committee defeat one of her bills that aimed to eliminate gender pricing by dry cleaners.

Del. J. Anita Stup, R-Frederick/Washington, said members of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee voted to kill her bill after being told existing law protects women from being charged higher prices for cleaning than men.

"They say it's already law, but let me tell you, it's not being done," Stup said.

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