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North Texas State Rep. Wants Domestic Violence Registry

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - In the age of online dating a state bill, co-authored by a representative from North Texas, will probably be of special interest to women and men entering into a new relationship.

Jason Villalba is a joint author of House Bill 21. The proposal would create a Domestic Violence Registry. The database would be similar to the Sex Offender Registry and would give access to information about repeat domestic violence offenders in Texas.

The proposed bill would make it law that any Texan with three or more domestic violence convictions would be required to register as a repeat offender. Villalba said the information would then be available to the public. "Any individual can look up on the web and see if a perpetrator is a past offender or a serial offender."

If and when the Texas Domestic Violence Registry becomes a reality, it will be free of charge and include detailed information. "We're creating a registry for serial domestic abusers where their names will be included along with names, birth dates, recent photographs, etc," Villalba explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Today also marked the official launch of the "One million men. One million promises." campaign.  The United Nations partnership is meant to gather one million promises from men to take action to end violence against women. The official ceremony was held in New York City and Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings was among the leaders speaking at the event.

At the ceremony Rawlings said, "The mayor's job, they do a lot of stupid things like cutting ribbons and things, but the number one job is public safety, is keeping people safe. We have been proud in Dallas - we've had nine years of crime going down - so we're saying, 'Alright. We're making progress. We're a safer city.' But really the numbers belied an epidemic that was happening that I didn't really even understand."

Mayor Rawlings recently kicked off a citywide initiative in Dallas challenging men to stop domestic violence. Friday he spoke about the events that helped birth the "Men Against Abuse, Putting an end to Domestic Violence in Dallas" campaign. The mayor said it was just days after the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead, that his mother passed away at a Dallas hospital. That was the same medical facility where Rawlings said, "This lady had been shot by her estranged husband twice in the back, turned over, shot in one eye and then shot in the other eye." Referring to the murder of Karen Smith in a parking garage on the UT Southwestern Medical Center campus, Rawlings told the group, "Between Newtown and this… and then the next day a man stabbed his wife in front of his kids. And I started to look at this and I realized that we had 13,000 cases of domestic violence in the City of Dallas."

Mayor Rawlings also told those at the "One million men. One million promises." event about some of the goals of the fight against domestic violence in Dallas. "We're just gonna say, first of all, it's unacceptable to hit a woman. It's unacceptable to strangle a woman. You do not do that! That's just a line that we're not gonna cross," he declared. "Second, we want to try to clarify what a man is. You can call a guy that hits a woman a lot of things. You cannot call him a man. I want to dial up the shame aspect. We have not talked about shame. Shame can be a very positive thing in culture. There are some things we need to de-stigmatize and there are some things that we need to stigmatize; and this is one of them and we're gonna do that in Dallas."

Statistics from the Texas Council on Family Violence show that in 2010 there were nearly 200,000 incidents of family violence in the state and that year 142 Texas women were killed in domestic violence incidents.

San Antonio democrat Trey Martinez-Fischer filed House Bill 21 and it isn't his first attempt to get domestic violence registry legislation passed. In 2011, Martinez-Fischer tried to make the Domestic Violence Registry law with House Bill 100; it died in committee.

Representative Villalba has also introduced a bill meant to toughen domestic violence punishment. House Bill 2541 would make an individuals third conviction for Assault with Bodily Injury, involving domestic violence, a 2nd degree felony offense. Currently those third convictions are considered a 3rd degree felony.

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