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House Passes Stalking, Domestic Violence Bills
AUSTIN — The Texas House today passed SB 82, legislation authored by Texas State Senator Jane Nelson to better protect stalking victims from dangerous behavior that often leads to violence. The bill now moves to the governor's desk.
"The connection between stalking and physical or sexual abuse -- and in many cases, murder -- is staggering. This law will ensure that prosecutors have the tools at their disposal to effectively prove this charge and to get a victim out of harm's way before it is too late," Senator Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said.
Current law makes it difficult for prosecutors to prove a stalking offense if a perpetrator engages in different types of stalking behavior. SB 82 expands the definition of stalking to include actions other than following a victim or repeated actions of the same kind. It also adds language that stalking can include behavior targeted to the victim's current dating partner; guarantees victims the right to offer relevant testimony in court; and ensures that stalking can be prosecuted in any county in which one instance of stalking occurred.
Nationwide, more than 3.4 million people were stalked annually, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Three-fourths of female murders and 85 percent of attempted female murders nationwide were preceded by at least one episode of stalking.
The House also sent to the governor SB 434 by Senator Nelson to better protect children living in a home where family violence is occurring. The bill directs a panel of experts to address the relationship between domestic violence and child abuse and neglect.
"We need to ensure our state policies keep children safe while being sensitive to the parental rights of family violence victims," Senator Nelson said.
Senator Nelson represents Senate District 12, which includes portions of Denton and Tarrant counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.