Sen. Ruth Johnson sponsors bill to protect crime victims

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Tuesday introduced 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 women and children, escaping from their abusers and hiding their new locations from them is a matter of life and death,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “Protecting victims of crime is not a partisan issue, and with this bipartisan legislation, Michigan would join 38 other states in offering address confidentiality programs to help keep victims safe.”

Senate Bill 70 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.

“This is about doing what we can to reduce the risk of victims being threatened or harmed again by their offenders and restoring some peace of mind to survivors,” Johnson said.

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 program participants.

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 FOIA 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 are sponsored by Sens. Johnson; Lana Theis, R-Brighton; Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township; Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte; Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit; and Erika Geiss, D-Taylor.

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