New domestic violence bills unveiled by Michigan’s Progressive Women’s Caucus

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—The House Progressive Women’s Caucus held a press conference this morning to unveil a package of bills to prevent domestic violence.

“Domestic violence impacts nearly every aspect of a survivor’s life, and these bills take real steps to ensure they can protect themselves and rebuild their lives,” said state Rep. Laurie Pohtusky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus.

Reported incidents of domestic violence have risen by 8.1% since the beginning of the pandemic.

Being home during the pandemic was a safe refuge for many, but for Nakira Howard it was the complete opposite.

“With the pandemic it revealed a lot of things within that time because we were in the house we were with people we thought we loved and we found out that it was more than just a pandemic outside, for some of us it was inside our homes as well.”

Howard knows she’s not the only one who suffered as the state entered lockdown last year.

“The bills looking to be passed now would be impactful for survivors to come. If these things where in place when I had my story to share or when I was going through it  would have made a big difference for me.

The legislation includes protecting survivors of domestic violence from eviction, adding stalking as a reason for survivors to use paid medical leave, additionally adding privacy rights for adults, not just minors.

you changing these laws and passing them makes a difference. it matters not only to me but other woman out there.

The Bills Introduced:

  • HB 5492 (Brabec): Updates the Paid Medical Leave Act of 2019 to include stalking, in addition to domestic violence and sexual assault, as a protected classification for the use of paid sick leave.
  • HB 5493 (Cavanagh): Ensures an individual is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for conduct stemming from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • HB 5494 (Clemente): Prevents landlords and realtors from discriminating against individuals based on domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • HB 5495 (Stone): Provides eviction protection for survivors of domestic violence.
  • HB 5496 (Kuppa): Extends privacy rights to adult victims, not just minors.
  • HR 179 (Young): A resolution to declare October 2021 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the state of Michigan.

Bills that will be Introduced:

  • (Rogers): Provides an explicit provision in Michigan statute that makes it clear to law enforcement and prosecutors that they are permitted and encouraged to engage and initiate victim-focused outreach with victim service agencies.
  • (Yancey): Alerts identifiable survivors if their abuser’s tether is tampered with and/or the abuser comes within a certain distance of the survivor’s home or workplace.

The bills are supposed to ensure safety and support survivors from further abuse.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented rise in reported domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking,” said state Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township), sponsor of House Bill 5492. “Survivors deserve to have supports like paid medical leave, privacy rights, and eviction protection. While we may not be able to erase the trauma endured by survivors, we can take common-sense measures to address some of the legal gaps and provide the resources and protections survivors need to begin rebuilding their lives.”

In Michigan, there were 64,778 reported victims of domestic violence.

“More than 15 million children live in homes with domestic violence,” said state Rep. Stephanie A. Young (D-Detroit). “Children who witness these acts of violence become victims, too. I used to be one of those children, not knowing if the dad who would come home would be the fun-loving dad or the dad who might put us out that night. Remember, the children are watching, the children are affected, and the children need help. As we look to bring more awareness and resources to the problem of domestic violence, let us not forget the children.”

“The Michigan Legislature has an opportunity to address a longstanding need,” said state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy). “In 2019, before the pandemic and the rise in domestic violence, the Legislature was unable to bring real change to the way we treat survivors and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This term, we must finally pass legislation and help survivors from across the state who are counting on us to help them heal from the physical and psychological damage done. We can’t let them down again.”

Survivors say, with cases of domestic abuse on the rise, these bills could be life-saving.

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