House approves Johnson bill to protect victims of domestic violence, human trafficking

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday approved Sen. Ruth Johnson’s legislation to help protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking by keeping their physical addresses hidden from their offenders.

“For many survivors of these heinous crimes, escaping from their abusers could mean the difference between life and death,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “This bipartisan package is about saving lives and giving survivors some peace of mind by reducing the risk that they will be threatened or harmed again.

“Currently, 37 other states offer some type of address confidentiality program to protect victims, and I am extremely pleased that we are one step closer to establishing this protection in Michigan.”

Senate Bill 70, sponsored by Johnson, would create an address confidentiality program in Michigan.

The program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to receive a unique identification number and a legal substitute address, such as a post office box, to use in place of their actual physical address for voting, driver’s licenses and other state interactions. The state would then keep their actual address confidential.

The program would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed, or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery.

Johnson also sponsored SB 72, which would prohibit schools from disclosing the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are participants in the address confidentiality program.

The other bills in the package would:

  • Allow participants to use their program ID in the state’s Qualified Voter File;
  • Protect a participant’s actual physical address from Freedom of Information Act requests;
  • Allow participants to claim an exemption from jury duty while in the program; and
  • Require the secretary of state to reissue an operator’s or chauffer’s license, an enhanced driver’s license, or an official state ID card with the participant’s designated address once the person has entered the program.

SBs 70-76 now head back to the Senate, which previously passed the bills. If the Senate concurs with the House changes, the bills will be sent to the governor.