On Thursday, May 29, 2014, Gov. Bobby Jindal held a bill-signing ceremony for several pieces of legislation that would toughen restrictions on perpetrators of domestic violence and further aid law enforcement involved in related domestic violence and dating abuse cases.

BATON ROUGE — On Thursday, May 29, 2014, Gov. Bobby Jindal held a bill-signing ceremony for several pieces of legislation that would toughen restrictions on perpetrators of domestic violence and further aid law enforcement involved in related domestic violence and dating abuse cases.

Jindal signed into law Senate Bills 291 and 292 by Senator Morrell and House Bill 750 by Representative Moreno. He also signed HB 1142 by Rep. Burrell, known as Gwen’s Law. Governor Jindal ceremonially signed HB 747 and HB 753 (the Pixie Geaux Act) by Representative Moreno, which were signed last week. He also highlighted HB 1052 by Rep. Moreno, which he said he plans to sign next week once it is approved through the legislative process.

“Domestic violence is a tragedy that has plagued our society for too long,” said Jindal. “Sadly, too many victims of domestic violence live throughout Louisiana. I am pleased to sign this legislation that will toughen current law to help protect victims from further abuse and increase penalties for criminals who commit these terrible acts of violence.”

Moreno’s bill, HB 747, adds the crime of “domestic abuse aggravated assault” to the enumerated list of crimes of violence. Additionally, this bill amends current law to provide that the offender shall be required to participate in a court-monitored domestic abuse intervention program.

His second bill, HB 750, speeds up the transmission of the “Uniform Abuse Prevention Order” and sends a copy to additional relevant law enforcement; establishes that any person against whom a protective order has been issued shall be presumed to be the “predominant aggressor”; and provides for immediate arrest if a law enforcement officer has reason to suspect domestic abuse or if the predominant aggressor is in violation of a protective order.

Moreno’s HB 753, known as the Pixie Geaux Act, creates the crime of “Possession of a firearm or carrying of a concealed weapon by a person convicted of domestic abuse battery” and provides for penalties of one to five years of jail time. It also prohibits the possession of firearms by a person against whom a protective order is issued for the extent of the protective order. This is consistent with current federal law regarding prohibitions on the possession of firearms.

“These bills will help us continue the fight against domestic abuse,” stated Moreno. “I am proud to author legislation that will further protect victims, and help ensure that those who commit these terrible crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

SB 291, authored by Morrell, authorizes punitive damages in suits arising from acts of domestic abuse when the injuries are caused by domestic abuse that results in serious bodily injury or severe emotional/mental distress.  Current law does not allow for these punitive damages for victims in these domestic violence situations.

SB 292, also by Morrell , provides an additional ground for an immediate divorce. This bill adds domestic abuse to the criteria for immediate divorce. Under current law, spouses must live apart for 180 days and have no minor children to be eligible for a divorce involving domestic abuse. It also makes spousal support mandatory and removes the one-third net income cap on the amount of support in cases of domestic abuse.

“I am proud to author this legislation,” Morrell said. “It will help us continue our efforts to eradicate domestic violence in our state, and it will show the perpetrators of these crimes that they do not want to continue committing these horrible acts in Louisiana.”

HB 1142, authored by Burrell, also known as “Gwen’s Law”, adds additional restrictions to authorizing bail in situations of domestic abuse. It allows the court to require electronic monitoring (including an electronic monitoring device), requires a contradictory bail hearing and the authority to deny bail altogether. It also requires that the court issue a protective order when the defendant is ordered to refrain from contact with the victim as a condition to pre-trial release.

“It is my hope that the bill we are putting forth today is comprehensive enough to save many lives,” said Burrell. “This cooling-off period is something we haven’t had before now. It provides an opportunity to evaluate the individual who is presenting the potential harm in this situation. By doing this, we can evaluate this person to see if he or she needs help or treatment. I am excited that this divine intervention has come at the time we need it – helping in the area of domestic violence.”

Jindal also highlighted legislation he expects to sign in the next week, among which is Moreno’s HB 1052, which creates a commission within the Department of Children and Family Services to review the existing public and private domestic programs to identify gaps in prevention and intervention services. It will also increase coordination among public and private programs to strengthen those services.