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Bill addressing domestic violence passes Utah Senate

Senator Todd Weiler
Jacob Scholl
Senator Todd Weiler

Members of the Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that hopes to beef up the state’s response to domestic violence — all while two families who know the toll of intimate partner violence firsthand sat nearby.

When state Sen. Todd Weiler introduced Senate Bill 117 on the floor, he highlighted Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson on one side of the chamber. On the other side, he pointed out Kent and Shauna Mayne, Henderson’s aunt and uncle.

Their daughter, Mandy Mayne, was shot and killed by her ex-husband last August. Henderson and the Maynes testified in support of the bill when it passed in a Senate committee last week.

Seated next to the Maynes were the parents of Gabby Petito, a woman killed by her fiance in 2021 in Wyoming in a case that captured the nation’s attention. Petito and her fiance were stopped by police in Moab prior to her killing — an interaction that many believe was mishandled by officers and was a missed opportunity to prevent her death.

Her parents, Nichole Schmidt and Joe Petito, were recognized as Weiler introduced the bill to the Senate.

“The Petitos and the Maynes are here because they both lost a beloved daughter to intimate partner domestic violence. And after Mandy, Deidre’s niece, was murdered, the Lt. Gov. and I started working together last fall to see what we could do, because although we can’t bring Gabby back, and we can’t bring Mandy back it seems like we have a problem, said Weiler.”

SB117 would create a police database of domestic violence calls, even if the call did not lead to an arrest. It would also mandate police to ask a series of questions to find out if a domestic violence victim believes they’re in danger. If the list of questions indicate they are in danger, police can connect them with necessary services, like counseling or emergency shelter.

With its passage in the Senate, the bill now moves to the Utah House, though it’s unclear when it could be introduced or voted on.