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Nebraska bill would extend protection orders by four years

Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 18:58:43-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Current state law in Nebraska gives victims of domestic and sexual assault, who seek a protection order, one year before they must renew.

Not only is there a short time frame, but a victim also must provide the court with a notarized letter. That requires hiring a notary and a presenting a photo ID.

That can also be an issue.

“We have clients who are fleeing from a violent situation in a hurry and now if they go back to the house, they risk re-entering a dangerous or arousing the suspicion of their abuser that they’re leaving,” said Katie Welsh, legal director for the Women’s Center for Advancement.

LB 118, a new bill from Senator Adam Morfeld, would make drastic changes to Nebraska’s protection order laws.

It would extend protection orders from one year to five years.

Plus, a victim would simply need a self-authenticated petition instead of a notarized letter. While that sounds like a small thing, it could make a huge difference.

“We feel strongly a logistical issue or a technicality like that should not prohibit a client from being able to obtain a protection order,” said Hillary Wasserburger.

Wasserburger runs the DOVES program in western Nebraska.

She said many survivors are surprised when they hear Nebraska's current laws.

“We, of course, border Colorado, who has lifetime protection orders, and we have people that re-locate into western Nebraska and are shocked that there is only one year available to them,” said Wasserburger.

The bill will go to the Judiciary Committee on Friday. Morfeld is optimistic that they can make some progress.

“We got a lot of work to do when it comes to this area of policy of Nebraska. And I think most reasonable people can agree that we need to strengthen the protections and make it more accessible,” said Morfeld.
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