SALT LAKE CITY — House Bill 249 heads to the House floor for debate after it was approved by the House Judiciary Committee this week. The bill aims to make access to the state's court database easier to help people learn more about who they are potentially dating.
Domestic violence survivor Lara Wilson testified to the committee that if she knew her boyfriend had been convicted of domestic abuse, her outcome would have been different.
"If I had been able to look this up and see that he had domestic violence charges prior, then I would not have gone on that first date," Wilson said.
Wilson said six months into the relationship she saw red flags.
"When the abuse started it was slapping and hitting and it wasn't until then that I found out that there was previous issues with his ex-wife," she said. "Because of the abuse I've had several broken bones, three surgeries and I'm hoping I can get one more surgery to fix my vocal cords."
Rep. Stephen Handy is sponsoring the bill and said its goal is to prevent domestic violence by giving Utahns an opportunity to look up someone's criminal history before dating them.
"They are public record. Why not just allow limited access for a small fee for individuals to check things out," he said.
Right now the state's site requires a monthly subscription fee. This bill would lower that fee to something closer to $5.00 for limited searches.
Some argue there could be unintended consequences with easier access to these searches. But Wilson feels knowledge is power and hopes the bill is pushed through to not only help others but also her own children.
"I've got some beautiful daughters that are of dating age and I just want them to know that they will be protected and that our state is doing something to help," she said.