AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that aims to better protect victims of domestic violence.
LD 1867, an initiative introduced by Gov. Paul LePage and sponsored by House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, would amend Maine’s bail code to require that bail be determined by a judge, not a bail commissioner, for certain felony offenses.
The bill also would allow a defendant to be put on probation for a conviction of violations of certain conditions of release when the underlying crime is a crime of domestic violence.
“The passage of domestic violence legislation will have a profound impact for victims. I commend our legislators for making this issue a priority,” LePage said in a statement. “Our laws should protect victims by deterring abusers and send a message that this violent behavior will not be tolerated.”
Another bill proposed by LePage, LD 1841, would ensure that money for the Victims’ Compensation Fund is collected. That bill was reported out of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee last week in an 8-5 vote.
Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, LD 1841’s sponsor, said a recent review of the bill by the Office of Program and Fiscal Review suggested that nearly $29,000 a year would be collected for victims of domestic violence.
The Victims’ Compensation Fund, a program administered by the Maine attorney general, provides financial reimbursement for losses suffered by victims and their families. When an offender is sentenced, the court requires the offender to pay either a $25 or $10 fee, but many times that fee is waived by a judge.
LD 1841 would prohibit judges from waiving those fees.
“I thank both Representatives Cain and Fredette for their continued support and work on these bills,” LePage said. “It is through a collaborative effort in Augusta that we will be able to make a significant difference in the lives of Mainers who are affected by this horrific form of violence.”
Both bills now go to the House and Senate.