Amanda’s Bill, which is designed to strengthen domestic violence laws in Kentucky, has moved another step closer to final passage. Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh is tracking the bill’s progress.
Last year, on September 11th, 29-year old Amanda Ross was gunned down outside her Lexington townhouse. Police immediately began searching for her ex-fiancée, Steve Nunn, against whom Ross had taken out a domestic violence order. Hours later, police found Nunn at his parents’ graves in Hart County. He was brandishing a 38-caliber handgun, and had slit his wrists. Nunn, the son of former Gov. Louie Nunn, now awaits trial for Amanda Ross’ murder.
Later that month, House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced plans to introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly allowing judges to order the use of GPS tracking devices to monitor the whereabouts of individuals in some domestic violence cases. Stumbo says it’s personal with him because he knew Amanda Ross, who had worked for state government.
“We’ve known her family and her for a number of years,” says Stumbo. “She was what all of us would want to see in our daughters. She was well educated. She was vibrant. She was full of ideas. She loved politics. She was just a person that you would never believe would have this happen to them.”
Last week, at the urging of Amanda Ross’ mother, Diana Ross, House Bill One, or Amanda’s Bill, easily cleared the House Judiciary committee.
“We recognize that nothing we can do will bring back Amanda,” says Ross. “We find Amanda’s Bill to be a common sense approach to enhance the ability of other victims to find needed protections.”
Relinquishing his gavel Tuesday, to speak on the bill on the House floor, Speaker Stumbo told his colleagues it took the tragedy of 9-1-1 to show us that the nation’s defense systems can be breached.
“It took the tragedies of this last 9-1-1 to show us that there is technology available and a system that we can get in place in Kentucky to provide that extra level of protection in these very, very, very severe and serious cases,” says Stumbo.
And Stumbo says it’s time to put that technology, which he says is relatively inexpensive, to work in Kentucky.
“A judge can look and know exactly where these people are,” says Stumbo. “The judge will be able to know then the conduct and behavioral patterns of these individuals as it relates to the situations that they’re in. The court will be able, as we talked about, to protect people who need to be protected.”
“Have all members voted?” says Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark. “Roll call machine showing 97 Ayes, no Nays. House Bill One with House committee substitute one and amendments one, two and three is passed.”
Reaction to the House vote was immediate. Darlene Thomas is with the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program in Lexington.
“We’ve believe it’s a very good start and find a lot of promise that it’ll help domestic violence victims throughout the state,” says Thomas. “We’ll work closely with its implementation the best we can – as far as the domestic violence association and local programs.”
Ross family friend Dale Emmons says the unanimous House vote is a victory for everyone in the commonwealth.
“You know, we do everything we can to protect lives and give people the assurance of personal safety when they find themselves in this situation,” says Emmons. “It’s traumatic for everyone. And if we can prevent violence and prevent incarcerations, and save money at the same time, I think that’s a win-win for everyone.”
The bill now moves to the Senate.