On the eve of International Women’s Day, Montana legislators voted down a measure to increase the penalty for domestic violence. Meanwhile, they offered strong support for bills to increase the penalty for trespassing.
Under current law, a first domestic violence offense is punishable with a $100 fine and a night in jail. But last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary committee killed a bill by Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy that would have increased the minimum penatlies for domestic abuse from to $250 and the jail time to 72 hours for the first offense. (SB 362)
The bill failed 5-7 with all Republicans except Jennifer Fielder voting no.
Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman voted with the Republicans against increasing the penalty for domestic violence. Jent said he opposed increasing the fines because he thinks the current law is already too severe because it prohibits spousal abusers from owning guns. TEA Party GOP Sen. Jennifer Fielder pointed out to Jent that the new bill had nothing to do with gun ownership (she would know)–to no avail. You can here the discussion here-fast forward to about 2:17:00
Compare this striking legislative view of justice for women with a bill for justice for property owners. Republican Sen. Eric Moore’s SB 299 would levy a $1500 civil fine for the first trespassing offense. That bill has already passed the Senate.
Another by Republican Rep. Alan Redfield increases the minimum fine for a second trespassing offense to $500. Redfield’s House Bill 147 passed the house by a wide margin committee and will be heard in the senate committee tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12.
Those who voted against raising the penalty for wife beating: Wittich, Sales, Boulanger, Brenden, Vincent and Murphy.