LANSING — The Progressive Women’s Caucus’ Gender Violence Task Force announced today the introduction of a package of bills meant to address some gaps in state law to better support survivors of gender and domestic violence in the state of Michigan. In Michigan, one in three women have been impacted by domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is not confined to a certain neighborhood or limited by demographics. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or ZIP code,” said state Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “As legislators, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to ensure the safety and well-being of survivors of domestic violence and abuse, and to prevent these crimes in the first place. The bill package we are introducing today marks an important step forward in providing critical protections for all Michiganders.”
“Those who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking are often in dire need of increased support and protection,” said state Rep. Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw). “The very least we can do to help them get their lives back is to fill some of these gaping holes in our state laws that fail to provide them with the services they need to get out and get help. We have no excuse — Michigan must do better.”
In the last month, the Gender Violence Task Force has worked on various legislative initiatives to recognize those who are survivors of domestic violence, as well as to better equip state law to help those who are trying to escape domestic violence situations. At the beginning of October, Rep. Pagan introduced and the House adopted House Resolution 167 to declare October 2017 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the state of Michigan. The task force’s support for survivors bill package will work to address some of the gaps in state law that leave survivors of domestic violence without adequate support. The legislation in the package will do the following:
- Require an employer who offers sick leave as a fringe benefit to allow the sick leave to be used for the purpose of providing or receiving assistance because of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Ensure an individual is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for conduct that was a consequence of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Prevent landlords/realtors from discriminating against individuals on the basis of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Provide eviction protection for survivors of domestic violence.
- Require a person accused of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking who is legally served a personal protection order to relinquish all firearms.
- Urge Congress to ensure appropriate funding for the Victims of Crime Act, Violence Against Women Act and similar programs.
“Our bills are the first in a series of steps toward ensuring that survivors feel protected and that their individual and unique needs are met so that they can find healing,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton). “This is not a partisan issue, this is a matter of basic decency and compassion for other human beings. It is my hope we will be able to vote on these bills and that my colleagues in both chambers will take action in supporting survivors of domestic violence.”
 Collins, K., Schoen, C., Joseph, S., Duchon, L. Simantov, E. & Yellowitz, M. (1999). Health Concerns Across A Woman’s Lifespan: The Commonwealth Fund. 1998 Survey of Women’s Health.