BIG WINS FOR SURVIVORS & SERVICES!
The 2013 Oregon legislative session ended with some big wins for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. We are grateful to all of you who contacted your legislators and spoke out on behalf of survivors and services. We are also appreciative of the many champions in the legislature who understand the importance of these services and policies and worked hard to ensure that they were prioritized.
VAW PAC Legislative Priorities
DHS & Housing Issues for Survivors:
Self-sufficiency is a key aspect of being able to continue a march toward freedom from violence and safety for children. We are pleased to announce that the Housing Alliance adopted the funding of housing for survivors of intimate partner violence as an important mantle to hold the line on their budget. The Emergency Housing Account (EHA) and the State Homeless Assistance Program (SHAP) were both flat funded at current service levels. In addition, the Temporary Assistance for Domestic Violence (TADVS) program was held-harmless at just under $9.8 million, or current service levels. Eligibility and limits on payment for this program have not been changed since 1997. Finally, we are pleased to report that the Co-Located Advocate program that was half-funded in the 2011-13 adopted budget has not been eliminated; held harmless, this program is now poised to lay a more complete and stable foundation to build upon next session.
Work Place Protections for Survivors:
There were several work place protection bills that wound their way through the halls of Salem this session. HB 2903 expanded unpaid leave to all employees who need to take time off of work to deal with their victimization. With passage of this bill both temporary and part-time employees are added to the list of those who are eligible. In addition, this bill stipulates that a poster explaining these benefits will be more readily available to inform employees of their rights. The Bureau of Labor & Industry will add this to their standard poster, required to be in plain view and active space in every office and organization. In addition, we helped support HB 3263, which made it on to our agenda after introduction late into the process by Rep. Julie Parrish. This bill grants 160 hours of paid leave to any state employee who needs to deal with victimization or stalking, though that employee must use their other paid time off first.
Sexual Assault Protective Order:
HB 2779 passed and added Oregon to the list of 19 other states that see the wisdom in restoring safety after victimization of sexual violence by creating the Sexual Assault Protective Order (SAPO). After several years of introduction, negotiation and debate, this policy finally met its deserved fate. Under the leadership of Rep. Sara Gelser, and in close collaboration with the Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association, advocates were able to construct a bill that passed nearly unanimously and will serve to fill and gap in our justice system. In addition, some of the cost is being borne by the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, making this a more affordable policy. SAPO becomes operative on January 1, 2014.
Funding Victims’ Services:
The 2013-15 Legislative Adopted Budget reflects significant increases in the overall funding for services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in Oregon. This budget sets base-line funding for the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (ODSVS) fund at more than $8 million. All told, funding for domestic and sexual violence services was set at upwards of $12 million.
HB 5006 – Criminal Fines Account Allocation to Department of Human Services.
HB 5006 allocated about $2.75 million to DHS out of the collection of certain fees from city and county courts paid to the state of Oregon. These funds then are distributed to a variety of public safety entities, including programs that help survivors of intimate partner violence. In addition to remaining flat funded from the 2011-13 biennium, allocation to domestic and sexual violence services remained on a “prioritization list” that exists in statute.
HB 5018 – Department of Justice Budget Allocation to ODSVS.
HB 5018 allocated about $4.3 million to DOJ out of the General Fund, paid into by the taxpayers of Oregon. These funds are assigned to the Oregon Domestic & Sexual Violence Services Fund, and ultimately distributed to non-profit programs that help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
HB 3194 – Department of Justice Budget Allocation to ODSVS.
HB 3194 allocated an additional $4 million to DOJ out of the General Fund. These additional funds are also assigned to the Oregon Domestic & Sexual Violence Services Fund, and ultimately distributed to non-profit programs that help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. In addition to doubling the total funds for 2013-15 ODSVS grants. Additionally, HB 3194 saves the state $90 million that is to be re-invested into proven, community-based public safety and justice services. From these saving, community-based, non-profit programs that serve survivors of crime will receive an additional 10% of county funding beginning in 2015.
These policy and funding wins mean that survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking will have access to vital services and resources they need in order to stay safe!