The Fate of Dominick’s Law
The April 2010 abuse and murder of four year old Dominick Calhoun sparked sorrow and outrage in Genesee County and received attention across the United States. Many looked for answers and ways to ensure that no child has to endure the torture and abuse Dominick endured, and as the community mourned the death of Dominick, a group formed centered around "Dominick's Law." Its most visible leader is Rick Calhoun, Dominick's grandfather.
Admittedly new to government, Mr. Calhoun and a mass of supporters, a group now totaling over 48,000 members on Facebook, took to lobbying Lansing. With the work of former Representative Paul Scott (R - Grand Blanc) and help from Representative Matt Lori (R - Constantine), two bills were introduced: House Bills 5077 and 5078. The bills had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee November 3rd, in which Rick Calhoun, Rep. Scott, and staff gave testimony.
However less than a week after the committee hearing, the sponsor of both bills, Rep. Paul Scott, was recalled. Confusion surrounded the fate of the legislation, as some supporters of the legislation were told that the bills were "dead" because of Scott's recall. The truth is legislation introduced by a recalled legislator can still be passed, but the status of the bills is up in the air. Since early November, the bills have not had another committee hearing.
Who is taking up the cause for pushing these bills is also somewhat unclear, though Rep. Lori's office, having the most experience with the legislation and because they know the Calhoun family, appears to be leading the effort with help from other legislators looking to be involved with passing the bills. Susan Martin, Chief Legislative Aide to Representative Lori, said, "With our involvement in this issue, and our knowledge of the family, and our deep concern that justice be sought on Dominick's behalf, it would make sense for Rep Lori to shepherd Paul Scott's bill through the legislative process." Former Representative Scott also has reached out to current legislators from the Genesee County area for their help in keeping the legislation moving.
The fate of Dominick's murderer, Brandon Hayes, is currently being determined in court. Testimony from the case is graphic, as doctors, paramedics and Rick Calhoun describe the extensive bruising and burns that covered Dominick's body, as well as the trauma that his head sustained and his very slow heart rate when help arrived.
In the meantime the Calhoun family has celebrated another Thanksgiving and Christmas without Dominick, who would now be six years old. Though justice may be served in the court system, the Calhouns, as well as the founders and members of the "Dominick's Law" Facebook page, have vowed to continue advocating against child abuse. The group's founder, Donna Hasman, restated this, "We will keep fighting for change, for our children and our future. We started this and we will not falter, we will get Dominick's Law passed and we will continue to try and change other laws to protect our children in the future. Dominick's death will not be vain."