LANSING — State Representative Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) announced that he and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle have introduced legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence. Santana is the lead sponsor of the package. He developed the legislation with the help of victims, lawyers and advocates.
“Here in Detroit, the rate of domestic violence is 2.5 times higher compared to the rest of the state, but it is an issue for women everywhere,” Santana said. “Although there will always be people who use violence, intimidation and fear against their partners, I believe these bills will help victims get out of an abusive situation.”
The bill package consists of two Senate bills and eight House bills. Following are the bills with their sponsor:
- Senate Bill 980, Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren), requires that the courts preserve victim confidentiality when domestic violence cases are appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals or the Michigan Supreme Court.
- SB 981, Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), prohibits attorneys from intentionally contacting individuals for direct solicitation that the attorney knows is a party in a divorce proceeding within 30 days of the filing date of the case.
- House Bill 5652, Santana, requires both parties in a domestic violence case to agree to mediation before the court can order it.
- House Bill 5653, Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township), adds pregnant women to the statute addressing violence against spouses, individuals in a dating relationship, those who share a household and those with a child in common.
- HB 5654, Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon), creates a confidentiality program, led by the attorney general, to keep personal information of a victim in a domestic violence case private.
- HB 5655, Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), allows victims of domestic violence to qualify for unemployment benefits if certain conditions are met, such as a victim forced to leave employment to receive services from a shelter.
- HB 5656, Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), prevents landlords from evicting tenants who are in a domestic violence situation.
- HB 5657, Rep. John Olumba (I-Detroit), requires schools to develop and make available curriculum and programs about teen dating violence and adolescent abuse. Schools must also create a policy for reporting and responding to such violence.
- HB 5658, Santana, allows victims applying for a Personal Protection Order to include their companion animals in the order.
- HB 5659, Santana, authorizes police to seize firearms and ammunition from perpetrators when responding to a domestic violence call if they believe the items expose the victims to the risk of additional harm.
“I think about my mother, my wife and my two young daughters, and that I would do anything to protect them,” Santana said. “I’m proud to step up and defend women here in Detroit and around Michigan. No woman, no man, no one deserves to be abused in their own home.”
Further demonstrating his commitment to women’s safety, Santana recently hosted a self-defense class for women at Don Bosco Hall in Detroit. Professional and amateur mixed martial arts fighters were on hand to teach the class. About 50 women participated.