AUGUSTA – A bill to provide $4.6 million in each of the next two years for school- and community-based sexual assault and domestic violence prevention education is being considered by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

The bill was heard Wednesday and received support from advocacy groups.

Sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, the measure requires the Department of Health and Human Services to contract with community agencies to provide the programs.

Laura Harper, director of public policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby, said it has been more than 20 years since such programs received significant financial assistance from the state.

“It is clear that the needs of Maine’s communities are not being adequately met, and we ask that this issue not take a back burner yet again to other pressing issues,” she said.

Lt. Hart Daley of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, who handles many domestic violence cases, applauded work done by the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, which works with victims of domestic violence and others.

“Without their invaluable services, survivors would be far less likely to separate themselves from their abusive relationships and also be less likely to follow through with the process of prosecuting the offenders, effectively hindering law enforcement efforts as well,” Daley said.

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