An anti-domestic violence bill has been introduced in the Ohio legislature — for the third time

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Backers of a bill meant to protect survivors of domestic violence are hoping the third time will be the charm for their legislation.

Rep. Juanita Brent, Cuyahoga County Councilmember Meredith Turner, Rep. Sara Carruthers and Maria York with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network talk to reporters at a press conference.
Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), Cuyahoga County Councilmember Meredith Turner, Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and Maria York with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network talk about reintroducing the proposal known as Aisha’s Law for the third time in Ohio. [Jo Ingles | Statehouse News Bureau]
Reps. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) have reintroduced Aisha’s Law, a bill that would require police officers to be trained to determine how likely a suspect might be to cause serious harm or death to an abused spouse or partner. The House passed the bill in the last two General Assemblies, but both times the legislation stalled in the Senate.

House Bill 486 is named for after Aisha Fraser, a Cleveland-area teacher stabbed to death in 2018 by her ex-husband Lance Mason, a former judge and Democratic state lawmaker. Mason, who had been locked up for assaulting Fraser before, was sentenced to life in prison.

The bill has 32 co-sponsors, nearly a third of the Ohio House.

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network reports 112 Ohioans died as a result of domestic violence. Brent said this time, this bill must be a priority for the legislature.

“Enough is enough,” Brent said.

Carruthers said it’s important to pass this law quickly to give police officers the training they need to support more survivors. And Carruthers has an even deeper reason for backing it.

“This issue is very personal to me as my mother was a survivor of domestic violence,” Carruthers said.

The latest version of Aisha’s Law:

  • requires officers who handle domestic violence complaints to learn intervention techniques
  • requires courts that issue domestic violence protection orders to have a judge or magistrate available to accept such petitions 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • expands the offense of “child endangering” to include the offense of domestic violence when a child is present
  • expands the offense of “aggravated murder”

Previous versions of Aisha’s Law have included elevating strangulation to a felony. Ohio was the last state where it was a misdemeanor until a law signed in January 2023. That law included lots of provisions on crime, including a crackdown down on distracted driving.

The bill was introduced April 10 and has not yet been assigned to a committee.