JEFFERSON CITY - While many Missourians were trying to make their significant others happy at least for a while in Valentine's Day, members of a special House Committee on Domestic Violence announced proposals to fight domestic violence in the state.
Rep. Vicky Wilson, D-Columbia, co-chair of the committee, said that the date was chosen as a reminder.
"Domestic violence is a public health issue, is not to be swept under the rug, and affects all of us," she said.
Wilson said the main objective of the committee's recommendations is to create efficient programs both to encourage victims to report abuse and to prosecute the abusers.
The committee also proposed bills to strengthen state record keeping. The committee reports that with better records, the state to get more federal funds.
"Right now, we don't have a real credible, concrete way of getting this information. I'm sure that if we would have it, we would get more money to fight this crime," said Rep. Bill Luetkenhaus, D-Josephville.
Other recommendations include propositions to define domestic violence as separate from other crimes of assault and to include non-marital dating relationships under adult abuse statutes.
The committee also proposed provisions to strengthen powers of the state to remove children from abusive families.
Committee members argue that children involved in domestic violence are more likely to have violent behaviors when becoming adults.
The committee report got both Democratic and Republican support.
"As we travelled the state listening some of the things happening to people, even an old guy like me, as tough as I am, had tears in my eyes," said Rep. Carson Ross, R-Blue Springs.
Bills reflecting the committee's recommendations, sponsored by Wilson, come before the House Children Committee Wednesday.