AUGUSTA – State Senator David Burns (R-Washington) is hoping a stalking prevention bill he submitted for the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature still has a chance, despite being rejected last week by the Legislative Council.
On October 30, the Legislative Council met to determine which bills will be allowed during the second session. Among those rejected was “An Act to Enhance Maine’s Stalking Laws to Include Illegal Stalking of Groups or Members of an Organization.”
Senator Burns said, “Currently, Maine’s anti-stalking laws are designed to protect individuals from being harassed or stalked. But we have many situations where groups of people such as families, school organizations, and others have been stalked by members of the community. My bill would extend the current stalking statute from individuals to groups as well.”
Under Senator Burns’ proposed legislation, penalties would increase when targeted victims are 16 years old or younger. This became an issue last winter when an individual in his district was constantly harassing, threatening, and stalking members of his targets’ families to and from school events and activities. Because there is presently no law to penalize this type of behavior, authorities were unable to bring charges against him.
According to the Maine Constitution, only bills that are deemed emergencies are allowed during second session. On November 21, the Legislative Council will hear appeals for those bills that were rejected.
“I hope that the Council will take a close look at this during the appeal process. I believe that protecting members of the public, especially our children and students, does qualify as an emergency and I would hope that they would allow this to go before the Legislature in January,” Senator Burns said.