Political Action: Bill in Legislature will protect victims of domestic violence

By William Lewis

Recently, a press conference was held at City Hall initiated by state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) in order to advance Assembly Bill No. A2599 and Bill No. 515 in the state Senate. This bill, which has been introduced and reintroduced during the last three years, is geared toward protecting victims from domestic violence.

This particular legislation is directed toward stronger enforcement of court orders of protection. It would mean that when an order of protection is issued against a particular individual, that person would be required to wear an electronic monitoring device during the duration of the restraining order. In this way, the police can take immediate action if the protection order is being violated.

This press conference was attended by Dolores Maddis of Rego Park and members of her family. Maddis’ 27-year-old niece, Erika Delia, was murdered by a former boyfriend who violated a protection order requiring him to avoid any contact with Delia, a school teacher. The former boyfriend later committed suicide.

The National Coalition of Domestic Violence has indicated that in the state in 2006, there were over 50,000 cases of domestic violence reported. This bill, named Erika’s Law, has passed the state Senate twice during the last three years. Presently, the bill is in the Assembly Codes Committee awaiting legislative action.

Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) has introduced a similar bill in which anyone who violates a protection order more than once is subject to prison. His bill also calls for electronic monitoring under certain circumstances. These two bills could possibly be merged into one bill before being considered by the Assembly.

Maddis, who started this effort three years ago, continues it in memory of her niece. She will be sending out letters and e-mails to the state Legislature. She will also be contacting her friends to encourage them to contact their elected representatives regarding this matter. She also hopes there can be a meeting of legislative leaders with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), since his agreement is probably needed to get it passed by the Assembly.

She believes the bill is important because it will save lives and deter individuals from violating protection orders. Maddis hopes this bill will be an issue in the 2010 elections. She points out that 13 states have passed similar legislation like the bill she originally proposed called Erika’s Law. She said, “We will just keep it up until it is the law.”

The Tea Party movement continues to grow with new members being recruited all the time. Recently, the Nassau County-Queens 9-12 Project affiliate of the Tea Party movement held a second demonstration in front of the district office of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) protesting his support of the Obama health care reform bill.

It was a small rally, but well-organized and enthusiastic. Demonstrators carried picket signs and, judging by the cars honking horns that were driving by, they had significant support. The rally was organized by Steve and Judy Morris, the founders of the 9-12 Project.

The affiliate is also involved in candidate selection, considering that they have held a meeting for gubernatorial candidate Steve Levy to speak to and answer questions by Tea Party members. They are planning on having one as well for Rick Lazio, who also wants to run for governor. The Tea Party Movement is generally expected to play a major role in the 2010 fall elections.

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