Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans — October 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Democrats call for action on domestic violence bills languishing in Michigan Legislature


Michigan Republicans have taken no steps to advance legislation introduced in March.

Michigan House Republicans are wasting no time pushing through anti-choice abortion coercion legislation they claim is in the best interests of women, even though it doesn’t protect women from more common types of reproductive coercion, a form of domestic abuse. Yet the Republican-led Legislature has been sitting on a package of bills since March that would combat domestic violence.

As National Domestic Violence Awareness Month gets underway, members of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus (PWLC) are urging their Republican colleagues to act on a package of bills aimed at combating domestic violence. The measures would give survivors of domestic violence the tools they need to escape violent situations and seek justice.

Rep. Winnie Brinks, who is the chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus, had this to say:

Domestic violence is a serious problem in Michigan, and people who are trapped in abusive relationships need assistance to restore safety and security to their lives. The proposals we have introduced would make a real difference in the lives of people trying to escape violence and abuse. Surely Democrats and Republicans can set aside partisan differences to do the right thing for these people who need our help.

Domestic violence is a significant issue in Michigan. According to a survey of Michigan’s domestic violence shelters and emergency service providers, on Sept. 17, 2013 – a randomly selected day in Michigan – there were more than 400 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines. That day, about 2,293 adults and children sought refuge in domestic violence emergency shelters, while shelters turned away another 173 people because of lack of space. On that survey day, 779 people in Michigan received other domestic violence-related services, such as counseling, legal advocacy and support groups for children.

Nationally, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and on average, an act of domestic violence occurs once every nine seconds in the U.S. Children who live in violent homes also suffer, whether they are physically abused themselves or witness it happening to family members.

From Rep. Kristy Pagan, chairwoman of the PWLC’s domestic violence task force:

Ending the problem of domestic violence and helping survivors rebuild their lives requires more than empathy — it demands action. Michigan women, children and men currently living with domestic violence are counting on us to be their voice in the legislative process, and there is no reason to delay action any further.

The bills in the anti-domestic violence package of legislation, which were introduced by a number of Democratic legislators, would:

  • Require any 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 sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking.
  • Ensure an individual is not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for conduct that was a consequence of domestic violence.
  • Prevent landlords and realtors discriminating against individuals on the basis of status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

“While we have made significant progress in our efforts to address violence against women, we have much more work to do, especially considering that a staggering one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime,” said Sen. Rebekah Warren, who went on to say this:

We are championing this legislation because our citizens’ safety, and even their lives, depend on our action, and we look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues to pass this bill package as an important step toward ensuring that survivors of domestic violence have laws that help them rebuild their lives, not re-victimize them.

Republicans pushing the abortion coercion bills want us to believe the legislation helps women, which it doesn’t. If they really care about the lives of women, children and men, they should get these domestic violence bills moving right away.

[Image credit: Hibr via Flickr.]