While news coverage of the 2015 legislative session focused on high-profile and often contentious issues, legislators in both parties worked together diligently to pass bills I brought forward to improve public safety, protect privacy and strengthen consumer-protection laws.
Leading up to session, the Montana Department of Justice crafted an ambitious and important legislative agenda aimed at addressing real needs. To pass these bills, we enlisted the help of a diverse group of legislators, including Republican and Democratic men and women from all over the state.
Building on our landmark DUI reforms from the 2013 session, Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, sponsored our bill doubling the minimum fines for DUI offenses and requiring people to pay an administrative fee when they refuse to provide a breath sample. These changes, along with our efforts to expand the 24/7 Sobriety Program around the state, are important in my goal to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders.
Rep. Kim Dudik, D-Missoula, carried our bill taking a comprehensive approach to addressing human trafficking. It helps ensure that human traffickers are brought to justice, but it also will help foster a victim-centered approach to those impacted by what truly is modern-day slavery.
Working with Rep. Stephanie Hess, R-Havre, we asked the Legislature for authorization to create a permanent sexual assault prosecution unit within the Montana Department of Justice. This will help us dedicate resources to train prosecutors and law enforcement throughout the state to better deal with sex crimes that affect so many Montanans. Much more needs to be done on this issue, and I look forward to working with prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates and legislators to achieve real results.
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