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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Legislators Debate Tougher Penalties For Domestic Violence

Montana Legislature

Kelsen Young, director of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says Montana law treats someone who hurts their dog more harshly than someone who hurts their spouse.

“If you look at abuse toward animals, first offense misdemeanor, second offense felony. Here in current law you have to be convicted of partner/family member assault three times for it to be a felony.”

Young was testifying in favor of a bill to increase the penalties for domestic violence and broaden the scope of the law. A first offense would be a $250 fine, and 72 hours in jail, up from $100 and 24 hours in jail currently. It also adds foster children and foster parents to those covered by the law.

Democratic Senator Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder has championed the domestic violence cause since his first term in 2003.

“I have carried this my first session in honor of my mother telling me to never hit a woman when I was five years old and I held that promise even ‘til this day after she left.”

Windy Boy says previous versions of his bill were defeated because of the cost involved; however the cost of the current proposal is listed as “minimal.”

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