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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 1, 2005

Lawmakers to alter home violence law to dodge amendment

Columbus--Two members of the Ohio House of Representatives, one Democrat, the other Republican, say that they will introduce legislation to change the domestic violence law to shield it from Ohio�s new marriage ban amendment.

Neither wants to wait for an appeals courts to decide if the amendment means the law no longer applies to unmarried couples, and both want to capitalize on the present high-profile nature of the issue.

Republican State Rep. James T. Raussen of Springdale says he will amend a bill of his that is now in the Judiciary Committee to add language making a �quick fix� to the domestic violence law.

According to Raussen, his bill, H.B. 29, already deals with domestic violence in regard to what judges can do with repeat offenders. He said he was approached to make the change because his bill is germane to the topic.

He expects the language to be ready within 4-6 weeks.

Raussen said House leadership is �receptive to moving the legislation,� so he expects it could be passed by June.

�The target is to clarify the definition of �living as a spouse� � in the domestic violence law, said Raussen.

Raussen, who voted for DOMA, said that measure was �looked at more thoroughly� than the amendment, so it avoids some of the unintended consequences.

Freshman Democrat William J. Healy II of Canton announced March 30 that he has a bill ready, and will introduce it as early as April 4 when the House returns from recess.

Healy said his bill also clarifies the definition of �living as a spouse.�

�It�s important to bring this issue to a debate,� said Healy, who opposed Issue 1 and the earlier DOMA bill as part of his campaign.

�The legislature needs to find out how sweeping an effect the marriage ban amendment has on lives, and how much we need to fix to close what are now loopholes,� said Healy.

�When you take away rights, you create problems,� Healy added. �I can�t solve all the issues created by Issue 1, but I can put them on the table for debate.�

Raussen and Healy agree that the voters did not pay attention to the language or the warnings posted about the effects of Issue 1.

�Clearly, people did not listen to these arguments,� said Raussen.



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