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Mo. Senate unanimously backs tougher domestic violence laws

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
The Thomas Jefferson statue stands on the steps of the Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Mo. on Dec. 3, 2010.

Legislation overhauling Missouri's domestic violence laws for the first time since the 1970s has won unanimous approval in the state Senate.

Thursday's vote was 33-0. The bill now goes to the House.

Among other things, the wide-ranging measure would require that state prosecutors rather than local authorities handle cases involving repeat domestic violence offenders.

It would also exempt victims from paying filing fees when they ask a court to enforce a protection order.

Several of its provisions were recommended earlier this year by a state domestic violence task force. The Senate sponsor, Republican John Lamping, of Ladue, says the changes will help law enforcement officials keep women and families safer.

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