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

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

“This important initiative would help reduce the risk of individuals being threatened or harmed again by their abusers and give them some peace of mind,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “For many survivors, escaping from their abusers could mean the difference between life and death

“Currently, 37 other states offer some type of address confidentiality program to protect these individuals. I’m so pleased we are able to work in a bipartisan manner to try to get this passed 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 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 now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.