KCUR News
3:57 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Koster Releases Proposals to Strengthen Mo. Domestic Violence Laws

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has unveiled the legislative changes he says will strengthen the state's domestic violence laws.

The 12 recommendations are the result of a task force Koster convened last year, and seven of them will require action by the General Assembly.

Most of the legislative proposals focus on strengthening orders of protection, which Koster calls the main tools to help domestic violence victims. He says current law doesn't allow juveniles to request those orders.

"Teens who are stalked or abused by other teens are often left without recourse," Koster said, "Even though our society fully recognizes that they are driving, dating, and using technology to communicate at lightning speed."

Koster says he has sponsors for the legislation in the state House and Senate and that the changes won't cost anything.

The changes are budget-neutral, says Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. And she says they may help relieve the financial burden on social service agencies.

"If we expand the types of protection, we expand those offenses that are arrestable, we will actually have, I believe, a lesser demand on the need for emergency safe shelter, so we can meet our goal which is, you get to stay safely in your home," Coble said.

If the General Assembly approves Koster's proposals, it would be the first update to the laws in 30 years.