SC domestic-violence bills face hurdles

COLUMBIA -- Out of a dozen bills that address domestic violence pending in the S.C. General Assembly, advocates pointed to two today that have the best chances of passage.
Criminal Domestic Violence Study Committee members, Sens. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, and Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, and Rep. Keith Kelly, R-Woodruff, heard from Vicki Bourus, who heads the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault, and Laura Hudson, executive director of the S.C. Crime Victims' Council.


Bourus and Hudson pointed to S. 790, a bill introduced by Martin, that would create a permanent civil restraining order in cases where an abuser has finished his sentence and has returned to the community where the victim lives.

 
The advocates are also closely tracking S. 282, an amendment to a law that alerts an abuser that he is going to be arrested when a victim signs a warrant for his arrest. The current law creates inherent dangers for the victim, according to advocates. S. 282, sponsored by Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, and Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, would exempt domestic violence and harassment from the courtesy-summons mandate.


The group also discussed Rep. Shannon Erickson's bill, H. 4198, that prevents insurance companies from treating a victim's past or present exposure to domestic violence as reason for declining a claim or increasing premiums.
Malloy said the bill has a serious flaw that absolves insurers.


Bourus told him they had worked closely with the industry on the bill.
Malloy responded, "Insurance companies are not going to end up objecting to that. ... Somebody is an attorney to put that kind of language in," added the senator.
While Bourus and Hudson said they haven't given up on the remaining proposals that have been introduced, they acknowledged Tuesday the legislation has not picked up much momentum.
Other proposals include: H. 3672, a bill to require a change of venue for a criminal case in which the accused batterer is a member of law enforcement or a judge; H. 3641, which requires police to note a CDV investigation on an incident report, even if there is no arrest; S. 266, which institutes dating-violence policies in schools. Last year Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, amended the bill to exclude homosexual youths from protections.

Reach Sarita Chourey at sarita.chourey@morris.com or (803) 727-4257

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