WISCONSINREPORT.COM (03/17/08) - The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV) is hailing the passage of the Safe Housing Act, SB 269, a bill designed to remove barriers facing domestic violence victims in housing. Last Wednesday, the Assembly unanimously backed the bill, and the Senate gave its final concurring and also unanimous vote on Thursday, last week. The Safe Housing Act allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to terminate a lease if they are in imminent physical danger and have an accepted form of documentation of the abuse.
“Economic issues remain one of the chief obstacles standing between abuse and safety for domestic violence victims, and by allowing a victim in danger to terminate a lease, this legislation clears just one more of those obstacles. It will make a tangible difference in the lives of many victims, their families, and their communities,” said WCADV Executive Director Patti Seger.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Spencer Coggs (DMilwaukee) and Representative Scott Suder (R-Abbottsford), and we look forward to the
Governor offering his support so it can soon become law,” Seger said.
The Safe Housing Act allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to terminate a lease if they are in imminent physical danger and have an accepted form of documentation of the abuse, such as an injunction.
The legislation makes leases void and unenforceable if they financially punish tenants for contacting law enforcement or emergency services. It also prohibits municipalities from enacting or enforcing ordinances that charge fees to property owners when tenants contact law enforcement for help related to domestic violence,
sexual assault, or stalking.
WCADV also actively supported two other major pieces of legislation that won final passage before the end of the regular legislative session last week.
The Strangulation Prevention Enforcement Act, sponsored by Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) and Sen. Julie Lassa (DStevens
Point), will help law enforcement and prosecutors better identify the dangers of
strangulation and suffocation and make the crime a felony.
The legislature also passed the state’s first legislation to define the crime of human trafficking, hold traffickers accountable, and offer some assistance to trafficking victims as they transition to
safety. Sens. Coggs, Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), and Reps. Sue Jeskewitz (RMenomonee
Falls) and Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) were the lead sponsors of the trafficking legislation.
“It was a tremendous legislative session for the effort to stop domestic violence. We deeply appreciate the legislative sponsors of these initiatives, leadership in both houses for prioritizing these bills, and all lawmakers for supporting them,” said Seger.
“We urge Governor Doyle to support them too, and we look forward to the work of educating our constituents about how to make these laws meaningful tools for domestic violence victims across Wisconsin,” Seger said.