ANNAPOLIS – The Family Violence Council, a creation of Maryland’s Attorney General and former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, faces an uncertain future when its funding expires at the end of March.
The council, a task force focused on reducing and preventing family violence, received money from federal grants distributed by the Governor’s Crime Control and Prevention Office. But its current grant will expire March 31 and it’s uncertain how Gov. Robert Ehrlich will distribute federal funds from the crime control office, said council director Jodi Finkelstein.
“Because it’s a new administration, we’re not sure how everything is going to be structured,” she said.
Created in 1995, the council has guided legislation relating to family violence, including the “24/7 access” bill, a constitutional amendment enabling district court commissioners to issue civil protection orders when courts are not in session. Maryland voters approved the amendment in November.
The council, whose membership includes legislators, law enforcement personnel, judges and domestic violence advocates, met Wednesday in Annapolis to discuss proposed legislation on stalking and a rape shield law to protect sexual crime victims.
The Women Legislators of Maryland also took up the council’s cause.
The caucus voted to send a letter to Ehrlich to persuade him “that the council should continue to be funded and continue to function,” said caucus president Delegate Adrienne A. Mandel, D-Montgomery.
But before the governor can take action, the federal government must decide funding levels for the states, said George Ludington, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.
“Hopefully by the time the current grant expires, a decision would have been made,” Ludington said.
In the meantime, the Attorney General’s Office is exploring all the options to make sure the office survives, Finkelstein said.
“I am 100 percent positive that the attorney general will do everything possible because he’s such a champion on this issue.”