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    Written by Greg Ball, 40th District State Senator

    Domestic violence is an epidemic that tears families apart and represents some of the most dangerous calls to respond to for law enforcement. The fact that nearly 25% of women experience domestic violence is appalling and should be considered a public health nightmare.

    During my first term in the New York State Senate, and in conjunction with my newly formed Women’s Advisory Council, I made fighting domestic violence one of my top priorities. In Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, we have had numerous families fall victim to domestic violence, as well as a police officer, John Falcone who, while in the line of duty, was caught in the dangerous cross hairs of domestic violence.

    After months of bipartisan negotiations and with daily input from my council and local advocates, legislators from both sides of the aisle worked together to pass our landmark bill S6308. This legislation will extend the length of stay for residents of domestic violence shelters up to 180 days, an increase of 45 days over the current regulation.

    This bill has now passed both houses but must be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. With this additional time, victims of domestic violence and their families will be more likely to remain safe, look for employment and find permanent housing.

    We also passed S7638, legislation that I sponsored with state Senator Steve Saland, which will protect victims of domestic violence and establish stronger criminal penalties to punish individuals who commit acts of domestic violence.

    As a community, we have learned that domestic violence can affect any family, regardless of their socio-economic status or race. Whether it is a co-worker, neighbor or friend, the reality is there is probably someone all of our lives who is currently in need of help.

    When the economy is at its worse, the most vulnerable members of our community are at risk. As senator, I will continue to fight for legislation and the organizations that provide advocacy, education and services, in order to create a safe, supportive environment that eliminates violence against women and children. If you would like to serve on my Women’s Advisory Council please call 845-279-3773.