WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today led a tele-town hall with Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) to push for passage of bipartisan legislation to fight domestic violence. During the tele-town hall, the senators and participants discussed the importance of swiftly reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which would continue to help law enforcement combat domestic violence across the nation. The bill recently passed the Judiciary Committee and now awaits a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate, which is expected this week. The legislation includes Klobuchar’s provision to strengthen federal stalking laws and help law enforcement more effectively target high-tech predators.
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand how domestic violence can destroy lives and tear apart families,” Klobuchar said.“Today we urge our colleagues to come together and take immediate action to pass this bill and provide desperately needed help to victims of these terrible crimes.”
The Violence Against Women reauthorization has bipartisan support and 61 cosponsors. Many of the provisions in the bill make important changes to the current law, such as consolidating duplicative programs and streamlining others; providing greater flexibility for how communities utilize resources; and including new training requirements for people providing legal assistance to victims.
The legislation also includes a provision similar to bipartisan legislation Klobuchar and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced earlier this year, called theStalkers Act of 2011, which would strengthen and update federal anti-stalking laws to better address the new technology predators are using to harass their victims. Current federal anti-stalking laws are outdated and may not effectively cover all acts of electronic surveillance and other means of stalking, including spyware, bugging, video surveillance, and other new technology used by modern-day stalkers. Klobuchar’s and Hutchison’s provision empowers law enforcement to prosecute any act of stalking that would “reasonably be expected” to cause a person serious emotional distress. Last year, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, a victim of cyberstalking, joined Klobuchar to call for stronger federal anti-stalking laws.
Klobuchar also recently led the effort to pass bipartisan legislation, signed into law last year, supporting survivors of sexual assault in the military. The bill ensures long-term preservation of sexual assault victims’ records, which can help veterans seek medical and disability assistance. Klobuchar led the successful effort to gather all 17 women senators as cosponsors of the bill before it became law.