Tuesday February 12, 2013 | 03:57 PM

WASHINGTON – Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King both voted Tuesday to support reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act on Tuesday.

The act, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan 78-22 vote, provides funding for law enforcement, crisis response training and services, legal assistance to victims, transitional housing and other programs aimed deterring or responding to violence against women. Congress allowed the act to expire in 2011.

Collins was an original co-sponsor of the reauthorization bill and praised an additional program that aims to reduce the backlog of untested rape test kits held by law enforcement agencies.

“The Violence Against Women Act has made a significant difference in combating domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, through grants to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations,” Collins said in a statement. “Since its inception in 1994, the programs authorized under this law have provided state and local partners with more than $4.7 billion in assistance.  This assistance helps to ensure the victims of violence get the help they need to recover, and has prevented incalculable suffering by stopping violent crimes before they happen.”

Both Collins and King also pointed out that roughly half of homicides in Maine are acts of domestic violence.

“While the passage of today’s legislation will not entirely end these heinous crimes, it will restore critical support resources and strengthen successful programs that strive to not only combat, but when possible, prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” King said in a statement.

The bill now goes over to the House for consideration.

“With their vote, they have demonstrated their commitment to the work that so many Maine people are doing to end sexual violence and to prevent it in the future," said Elizabeth Ward Saxl, executive director of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "We now look to the House to swiftly to pass a bipartisan bill that is informed by those engaged in this work and which protects all victims.”

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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