May 31, 2017 07:49 AM

Stalking bill heads to governor for signature. House concurrence needed on protective order amendment.

The Louisiana Senate approved Rep. John Schroder's bills on stalking and protective orders on Tuesday, sending one bill to the governor for his signature and the other bill back to the House for concurrence on a Senate committee amendment.

The Senate gave unanimous approval to HB499 and HB509, meaning both bills will likely become law.

Schroder told The Independent on Wednesday morning that he will recommend that his House colleagues approve the Senate amendment to HB509.

HB499 closed a loophole in the current law that allowed private investigators to be used as surrogate stalkers for persons who are the subject to protective orders.

HB509 toughens the penalties for violation of protective orders. Second violations of protective orders will carry a minimum 14-day jail sentence with them if the violation does not involve violence. The bill allows the courts to substitute participation in a domestic violence intervention program in place of the jail sentence. If the second violation involves violence, an offender would face between three months and two years in jail, plus a fine if convicted. Participation in a domestic violence intervention program is an option if part of the jail sentence is suspended.

The bill was amended in Senate Judiciary C on May 23. The amendment deals with that section of the bill that would have required judges to bar offenders from communicating in any way with the person who sought the protective order. The committee amended the bill to allow judges to impose the communications ban, but not require them to do so.

Schroder says he is okay with the amendment considering the other improvements the bill makes in protective order enforcement. He believes his House colleagues will approve the amended version of the bill and send it to Gov. John Bel Edwards for his signature. A House vote on concurrence could come at any time in the next few days.

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