Being a successful legislator requires patience and persistence.  Issues arise that call for a bit of both, or quite a lot of one or the other.  Failure to exercise these often results in legislative failure and frustration.  In my time in the Senate I have seen firsthand how lengthy the deliberative legislative process can be.  Many times the “deliberative” process is less deliberative and more “political shenanigans” than I’d like to deal with, but you press on.  Important work must be done.  Passing a law to create dating violence protections in Kentucky was a work still undone when I arrived in 2013, but not anymore....

Lotus Award to be presented by Hopkinsville-based crisis center Sanctuary, Inc.’s 2015 at Annual Dinner on Thursday, August 6

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (August 6, 2015) – In recognition of their commitment to pass a new law creating dating violence protections in Kentucky, Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) and Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville) will be recognized with the Lotus Award by the Hopkinsville-based crisis center Sanctuary, Inc. The award, to be presented at Sanctuary, Inc.’s annual dinner Thursday night, honors individuals who have displayed advocacy, promoted education and fought for empowerment for victims of dating/domestic violence and sexual assault in the community.

Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Tilley both were instrumental in the passage of House Bill (HB) 8 in the 2015 Legislative Session of the Kentucky General Assembly. HB 8 allows victims to take out emergency protective orders, or EPOs, against their abusers or stalkers. Before this law passed, that kind of protection only applied to married couples, those who have children together, or people who live together. HB 8 was signed by Gov. Steve Beshear on April 9, 2015, and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, to allow judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement time to adapt to the new policy. 

“House Bill 8 was a real game-changer for the state of Kentucky,” said Tracey Clark, Director of Clinical and Transitional Services at the Sanctuary. “As a state we are finally addressing the need for civil legal protections for our populations most vulnerable to dating violence. We are very appreciative of the tremendous efforts put forth by these two individuals (Sen. Westerfield since 2013 and Rep. Tilley since 2008); they have been amazing assets in the progress of both our organization and our state as a whole.”

“When I was elected to the Senate in 2013, Kentucky was still lagging behind the rest of the country in creating these important protections, and something had to be done,” Sen. Westerfield said. “That same year, I became the first Senator to hear the bill in committee. Thanks to the hard work of many since then, I was thankful to see its final passage this year.

“We had opponents who became advocates in the process, and now Kentucky has a way to protect its citizens who have been victimized by dating violence.  As the father of a young daughter, I’m particularly grateful for the protections we’ve created through HB 8.  I’m honored to be recognized with this award, but it is truthfully the leadership and staff of places like Sanctuary that deserve the greatest thanks for their tireless work to provide hope to those in need.”

"The odds that a woman will be victimized by physical and/or sexual violence are one in four; the odds of sexual victimization on a college campus are one in three; and, for all other women that's one in five,” Rep. Tilley said. “As a father of three girls, I don't like those odds.  I'm proud that HB 8 will help us beat those odds, and I'll be forever thankful for the many people that helped us make it the law." 

Sanctuary, Inc. is a non-profit agency committed to the provision of preventative and restorative services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Since 1982, Sanctuary Inc. has delivered caring, comprehensive support to victims of personal violence in the nine-county area of the Pennyrile Area Development District: Caldwell, Christian, Crittenden, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Muhlenberg, Todd, and Trigg. The Sanctuary seeks to empower through crisis intervention, peer support, victim advocacy, and community education.