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Amanda's Bill clears House, goes to Senate

FRANKFORT — A measure that would allow judges to order global positioning devices in some domestic violence cases unanimously cleared the House on Tuesday but will likely face tougher scrutiny in the Senate.

The House voted 97-0 Tuesday to approve House Bill 1. Dubbed Amanda's Bill, the measure is named after 29-year-old Amanda Ross, who was shot and killed on Sept. 11, allegedly by former state Rep. Steve Nunn. He has pleaded not guilty.

Diana Ross, Amanda Ross's mother, was present Tuesday while the House voted on the measure. After the bill passed, Ross hugged several lawmakers but declined to comment to the media.

Dale Emmons, a spokesman for the Ross family, said he expected the Republican-controlled Senate to "ultimately" approve the bill. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the bill's sponsor, said he expects the Senate will make improvements to the measure.

"We welcome that," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "I want it to be friendly to the courts. I've heard some of the judges have some reservations about it. It's a tool for the courts."

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the bill, but Williams declined to say how he thought the bill might change.

The measure gives counties the option of using global-positioning devices in other cases besides domestic violence, such as monitoring those who are released on bond.

Stumbo and the bill's supporters hope that expanding the possible uses of GPS systems will make them more cost effective for counties to implement. The cost of the devices — which can be as low as $7 a day — will be paid by the person required to wear the device.

In the approximately 15 states where a GPS device is ordered in some of the most serious domestic violence cases, research shows that there have been no murders committed by those wearing the devices, Stumbo said.

There was little debate about the bill before Tuesday's vote. Some members expressed concerns about how the system would work — whether it would work in areas with spotty cell phone reception, and what would happen if someone were to take off the device.

Fayette County already uses GPS systems to monitor those who are released on bond before trial.