Equal Pay Day Bill S.257 filed by Senator Mia McLeod -Financial Advancement for SC Women

senator-mcleod-swearing-inBy Bridget Birchett April 6, 2017

 

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S. 257

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Senator McLeod
Document Path: l:\council\bills\nl\13652sd17.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 3599

Introduced in the Senate on January 17, 2017
Currently residing in the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry

Summary: SC Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1/17/2017  Senate  Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 3)
   1/17/2017  Senate  Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry 
                        (Senate Journal-page 3)

View the latest legislative information at the website

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

1/17/2017

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

A BILL

TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, TO ENACT THE “SOUTH CAROLINA EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK ACT”, BY ADDING CHAPTER 12 TO TITLE 41 SO AS TO PROHIBIT ON THE BASIS OF SEX THE PAYING OF WAGES TO EMPLOYEES OF ONE SEX AT A LESSER RATE THAN THE RATE PAID TO EMPLOYEES OF THE OPPOSITE SEX FOR COMPARABLE WORK IN JOBS WHICH REQUIRE THE SAME OR ESSENTIALLY THE SAME KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, EFFORT, AND RESPONSIBILITY; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS, EXCEPTIONS, AND PROHIBIT SPECIFIC EMPLOYER ACTIONS WITH REGARD TO THESE REQUIREMENTS; AND TO PROVIDE ADMINISTRATIVE AND, WHERE APPLICABLE, JUDICIAL REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION    1.    This act is known and may be cited as the “South Carolina Equal Pay for Equal Work Act”.

SECTION    2.    Title 41 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“CHAPTER 12Equal Pay for Equal WorkSection 41-12-10.    The General Assembly declares that the practice of discriminating on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees of one sex at a lesser rate than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for comparable work in jobs which require the same, or essentially the same, knowledge, skill, effort, and responsibility unjustly discriminates against the person receiving the lesser rate, leads to low worker morale, high turnover, and frequent labor unrest, discourages workers paid at the lesser wage rates from training for higher level jobs, curtails employment opportunities, decreases mobility of workers and increases labor costs, impairs purchasing power and threatens the maintenance of an adequate standard of living by the workers and their families, prevents optimum utilization of the labor resources available to the state, threatens the well-being of citizens of this State, and adversely affects the general welfare. It is therefore declared to be the public policy of the State of South Carolina through its police power to eliminate, as rapidly as possible, discriminatory wage practices based on sex.

Section 41-12-20.    As used in this chapter, the term:

(1)    ‘Commissioner’ means the Commissioner of Labor of the State of South Carolina.

(2)    ‘Employ’ means to permit to work.

(3)    ‘Employee’ means any individual employed by an employer, other than domestic or agricultural employees, and includes individuals employed by the State or any of its political subdivisions, including public bodies.

(4)    ‘Employer’ means any person employing ten or more employees and acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee. The term ’employer’, as used in this chapter, means an employer who is doing business in the State of South Carolina, in regard to its employees located in this State.

(5)    ‘Occupation’ means any industry, trade, business or branch of it, or any employment or class of employment.

(6)    ‘Wage’ or ‘wage rate’ means all compensation for employment, including payment in kind and amounts paid by employers for employee benefits.

Section 41-12-30.    (A)    An employer having employees subject to any provisions of this chapter may not discriminate, within the establishment in which the employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in the establishment at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in the establishment for equal work in jobs which require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where payment is made pursuant to:

(1)    a seniority system;

(2)     a merit system;

(3)    a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or

(4)    a differential based on any factor other than sex.

(B)    An employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this section in order to comply with this section, shall not reduce the wage rate of any employee.

Section 41-12-40.    An employer may not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or attempt to exercise, any right provided under this chapter. An employer may not discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse employment action including, but not limited to, termination or in any other manner discriminate against any employee for inquiring about disclosing, comparing, or otherwise discussing the employee’s wages or the wages of any other employee, or aiding or encouraging any other employee to exercise rights pursuant to this chapter.

Section 41-12-50.    An employer subject to this chapter may not discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse employment action including, but not limited to, termination against an employee because, in exercising or attempting to exercise the employee’s rights under this chapter, the employee has:

(1)    filed any complaint or has instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding to enforce the employee’s rights under this chapter;

(2)    provided or will provide any information in connection with any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right afforded to an employee pursuant to this chapter; or

(3)    testified or will testify in any inquiry or proceeding relating to any right afforded to an employee pursuant to this chapter.

Section 41-12-60.    (A)    An employee who in good faith believes that the employee’s employer is in violation of this chapter shall submit written notice of the alleged violation to the employer. An employer who receives the written notice from an employee has sixty days from receipt of the notice to investigate the matter and remedy any violation of this chapter. If an employer remedies the violation in a manner that complies with this chapter and within the time provided in this chapter, the employee may not bring any action against the employer pursuant to this chapter except as provided in subsections (B) and (C).

(B)    If an employer fails to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of the employee within the time provided, the employee may file a complaint with the commissioner requesting an investigation of the complaint.

(C)    If the commissioner finds evidence of discriminatory, retaliatory, or other adverse employment action on the part of the employer in violation of this chapter but is unable to resolve or mediate the dispute or fails to render a decision as to the dispute, or issues a finding of no discrimination on the part of the employer, the employee may institute a civil suit in the court of common pleas.

Section 41-12-70.    (A)    Any case appealed to the court of common pleas pursuant to this chapter must be heard de novo, and except in a finding of a violation of Section 41-12-40 or 41-12-50, or both sections, the employer is liable to the affected employee in the amount of the employee’s unpaid wages, interest at the legal rate, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

(B)    If in the court of common pleas there is a finding of the employer’s violating Section 41-12-40 or 41-12-50, or both sections, then the employer is liable for compensatory and other damages, including punitive damages, limited to those specific violations.

Section 41-12-80.    Nothing in this chapter prevents the settlement of a claim by agreement of the employer and employee for a lesser amount than the employee alleges the employee is due.

Section 41-12-90.    (A)    An action for inadequate wages or any other form of relief for a violation of this chapter must be commenced within one year of the date that an employee is aware or should have been aware that the employee’s employer is in violation of this chapter.

(B)    This one-year prescriptive period is suspended during the sixty-day period allowed the employer pursuant to this chapter to respond to the employee’s written notice, or during the pendency of any administrative review or investigation of the employee’s claim by the commissioner or the United States Department of Labor, or both.

Section 41-12-100.    (A)    The commissioner shall have the power and it shall be his duty to carry out this chapter; and for this purpose the commissioner or his authorized representative shall have the power to:

(1)    assist any employer to ensure that all employees are receiving comparable pay for comparable work in jobs which require comparable skill, effort, and responsibility;

(2)    assist any employer so that the character of the work and operations on which persons are employed can be compared, to question the persons, and to obtain other information as is reasonably necessary for the administration and enforcement of this chapter; and

(3)    eliminate pay practices unlawful under this chapter by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.

(B)    The commissioner is authorized to request witnesses to appear and to produce pertinent records for examination by the commissioner or his authorized representative in the county of the place of business of the employer. In the event of failure of a person to attend, testify, or produce records voluntarily, the commissioner may make application to the court of common pleas of the county in which the business is located and, after notice and hearing, the court, in its discretion and upon proper cause shown, may issue an order requiring the person to appear before the commissioner or his authorized representative and testify or produce records as requested by the commissioner.

(C)    The commissioner shall have the authority to promulgate those regulations appropriate to the carrying out of this chapter.

Section 41-12-110.    Every employer subject to this chapter shall keep an abstract or copy of this chapter posted in a conspicuous place in or about the premises where any employee is employed.

Section 41-12-120.    This chapter is supplemental and is not intended to supersede any other cause of action or remedy available to an employee under state or federal law.”

SECTION    2.    This act takes effect July 1, 2017, and applies for complaints for wage discrimination occurring after June 30, 2017.

—-XX—-

HRC Honors Pro-Equality Female Senators for Women’s History Month 2017 Pearls of Wisdom

#pearlsofwisdom

by Brian Mcbride March 26, 2017

While the outcome in the 2016 Presidential race was devastating for many in the LGBTQ community, the election wasn’t all bad news. In down ballot races, the election proved that pro-equality women can still come out on top. Hillary Clinton didn’t break the highest and hardest glass ceiling, but four incredible women made history in their own right by winning U.S. Senate seats: Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth, Maggie Hassan and Kamala Harris.

This Women’s History Month, we’re honoring these female advocates who made U.S. Senate history: Cortez Masto is the country’s first-ever Latina senator; Duckworth is the first-ever Thai American senator, and the first woman senator to serve in a combat role in the U.S. Army; and Harris is the country’s first Indian American senator, and California’s first African American senator.

The 115th U.S. Senate has more women members than ever before — a record-breaking 21 — including Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is the nation’s first openly-lesbian U.S. Senator.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

As Nevada’s Senator, Cortez Masto is committed to working with HRC to ensure that historic LGBTQ equality gains are protected and to fight LGBTQ discrimination. She has said, “It is outrageous that in 2016 people can still be at risk of losing their jobs in this country because of whom they love.. in the Senate I will focus on ensuring LGBT people are treated equally under the law by working to end discrimination.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Senator Tammy Duckworth has been a strong LGBTQ ally in the House of Representatives. Duckworth received a perfect score on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for both of her terms in the House of Representatives. She is a cosponsor of the Equality Act and the Global Respect Act, which would provide a means to prevent individuals who violate the human rights of LGBTQ people from entry into the United States.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges, she said, “I am so proud that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of love, commitment and equality today. The LGBT community is entitled to the same rights afforded to everyone else and our nation has taken an enormous step towards being more fair and just.”

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

Throughout her career, Maggie Hassan has fought for the rights of all citizens to participate fully in the civic and economic life of their communities. As a state senator, she worked tirelessly to achieve marriage equality, helping make New Hampshire one of the first states to pass legislation ensuring access to legal marriage for all. Last year, as Governor of New Hampshire, she took a bold and historic step by issuing an executive order extending vitally important non-discrimination protections to transgender people in New Hampshire with respect to government employment, contracts and programs.

Hassan’s commitment to LGBTQ equality is illustrated in a digital ad HRC released in support of Hassan, “Raymond Braun Reflects on Why He Came Out to Maggie Hassan.” “I’ve known Maggie Hassan for more than 10 years,” Braun said, “and I’ve seen firsthand what a great champion she is for equality. Maggie was one of the first people I came out to, and I am honored to be able to share my experiences with the great people of New Hampshire.”

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)

As California Attorney General, Kamala Harris stood up for LGBTQ rights. She led the team that helped bring down California’s Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2015, worked to  stop an abhorrent and unconstitutional proposed ballot initiative that could have criminalized same-sex relationships, potentially threatening those convicted with death. She advanced a robust platform for LGBTQ equality in her Senate campaign, fighting for LGBTQ youth, and vowing to work to include essential protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 2014, Harris spoke at HRC’s Los Angeles Gala, where she shared her experience fighting for marriage equality in California and across the United States. She said, “Let us stand together on the side of fighting for justice and equality,” and called for LGBTQ equality, reproductive health rights, immigration reform and voting rights.

Despite the uphill climb for this congress to advance legislation protecting and defending the rights of the LGBTQ community, members of Congress plan to reintroduce the Equality Act during this legislative session — proving that these remarkable women will continue to stand on the right side of history.

House panel OKs workplace accommodations for pregnant women, new mothers

Beth Bern

House backs $60-a-year tax hike to repair SC’s ragged roads

gas tax

The S.C. House voted 97-18 Wednesday to increase the state’s gas tax and other driving fees to raise about $600 million a year to repair the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Under the plan, the state’s gas tax would increase by 2 cents a gallon each year for the next five years. When fully phased in, the 10-cent-a-gallon increase would cost the average S.C. driver $60 a year.

The state Department of Transportation estimates it needs an added $1 billion a year to repair and maintain S.C. roads.

“We’re at crisis point when it comes to roads in South Carolina,” said House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, who has championed the bill.

The House approved the tax increase with a wide enough majority to override a potential veto by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster.

McMaster, a Richland Republican who faces running for governor in 2018 in a tax-averse GOP primary, has not said whether he will veto the plan. Instead, he has said taxes should be raised only as a last resort.

After a perfunctory final House vote Thursday, the tax-hike bill will go to the state Senate.

There, the bill faces the hurdle of libertarian-leaning state Sen. Tom Davis, the Beaufort Republican who has filibustered a gas-tax increase two years in a row. Pro- and anti-gas-tax hike groups also are expected to roll out lobbying efforts.

But the GOP-controlled House overwhelmingly voted to raise the gas tax Wednesday.

“Refusing to compromise will not solve our roads problem, but simply places politics above responsible public policy,” said House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington. “A delayed resolution continues to threaten the safety of South Carolina drivers and increases costs for repair and resurfacing of decaying roads and bridges.”

The state’s 16.75 cent-a-gallon gas tax, last increased 30 years ago, is the second-lowest in the nation.

“We don’t have enough money to keep our roads in a safe condition,” said state Rep. Russell Ott, D-Calhoun.

 sc roads2

The first priority of the new money would be to enact a safety program for the state’s deadly rural roads, costing roughly $50 million a year, said S.C. Transportation Department chief Christy Hall. That plan includes adding rumble strips to alert drivers they are near a road’s edge and widening shoulders to give drivers time to correct if they run off the highway.

According to the Transportation Department:

▪ Roughly half of an added $600 million a year from the higher gas tax and driving fees would be spent to improve the condition of the pavement on the state’s roads. The goal is to bring 58 percent of the state’s primary roads into good condition.

▪ Another $200 million would be spent to widen interstates and launch a freight-mobility program.

  •  Roughly $60 million would improve day-to-day maintenance levels to “fair,” a level with few deficiencies. Highway workers now are struggling to keep up the highway system, much of it in poor condition.

Supporters of the tax hike pointed to the condition of the state’s roads.

“You’ve got potholes on the interstate,” said state Rep. Joe Jefferson, D-Berkeley, adding lawmakers could override any veto by Gov. McMaster.

SC House Passes Bill to Expand Definition of Anti-Semitism

beth bernstein

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- House lawmakers voted 103-3, passing a bill aimed to combat anti-semitism on college and universities in the wake of recent incidents nationwide.

The bill (H.3643) would require schools to use the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-semitism, a move that had critiques concerned about infringing on their first amendment rights.

“The State Department’s mission is not to set policy for American Citizens,” Rep. Jonathan Hill said on the House Floor Thursday. “The definition that they apply to other nations in determining whether an action is anti-semetic may not be the best way to measure that for American citizens.”

Rep. Beth Bernstein, co-sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would instead address any criminal activity that is spun from anti-semitism.

“It does not affect the curriculum of what a professor wants to teach in class,” Bernstein said. “This is aimed at combating all of the anti-semetic incidents that we are seeing across the nation at an alarming rate.”

The bill’s language includes that “Nothing in this act may be construed to diminish or infringe upon any rights afforded by the first amendment to the U.S. constitution.”

rick quinn

The State Department’s examples of anti-semitism under their definition are below:

Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism:

-Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).

-Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

-Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

-Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

-Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?

EXAMPLES of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:

DEMONIZE ISRAEL:

-Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis

-Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

-Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions

DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL:

-Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation

-Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations

DELEGITIMIZE ISRAEL:

-Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist

However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.

© 2017 WLTX-TV

 

 

New Jersey Senate Passes a Bill That Requires New Pet Stores to Sell Only Rescue Animals

 

by BY Lauren Matthews

The Humane Society estimates that there are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S. producing more than 2.4 million a year—and less than 3,000 of those are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, according to the ASPCA, approximately 3.9 million dogs enter shelters every year—and each year, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized.

In an effort to crack down on the use of puppy mills, one state is taking a stand: The New Jersey Senate approved a bill earlier this week that would require pet stores licensed after January 12, 2016 to sell only dogs and cats obtained from shelters and animal rescue organizations. The bill will now head to the Assembly where it will be debated, reports The Record. “These puppy mills have gained a notorious reputation for putting profits ahead of the humane treatment of dogs and cats,” Senator Raymond Lesniak, who introduced the bill, told reporters last December. “Their mass breeding has created inbred health and behavioral problems and the inhumane conditions have left too many of these pets to suffer from neglect and mistreatment.”

Those against the bill—namely, representatives of the pet industry—say it undermines existing pet protection laws, and that it will make it difficult for new pet stores to open and will limit pet choice for future owners.

 

Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter Sponsors Bill H 3361 to protect Family Pets from Abuse in Domestic Violence

By Bridget Birchett 11/27/2016

Bill -H 3361  Signed in law by Governor Nikki Haley  June 6, 2014 

Session 120 – (2013-2014)

H*3361 (Rat #0292, Act #0251 of 2014) General Bill, By Cobb-Hunter, Long, Weeks and R.L. Brown
Summary: Domestic Abuse
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 20-4-60, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO AN ORDER FOR PROTECTION FROM DOMESTIC ABUSE, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE COURT MAY PROHIBIT HARM OR HARASSMENT TO PET ANIMALS OWNED, POSSESSED, KEPT, OR HELD BY THE PETITIONER AND OTHER DESIGNATED PERSONS, AND TO PROVIDE THAT IN ORDERING TEMPORARY POSSESSION OF PERSONAL PROPERTY, THE COURT MAY ORDER THE TEMPORARY POSSESSION OF PET ANIMALS; TO AMEND SECTION 47-1-40, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE ILL-TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, SO AS TO REVISE THE PENALTIES FOR THE ILL-TREATMENT OF ANIMALS; TO AMEND SECTION 47-1-130, RELATING TO ARREST FOR VIOLATION OF THE LAWS PROHIBITING CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, SO AS TO PROHIBIT THE SOUTH CAROLINA SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR OTHER SIMILAR ORGANIZATIONS, FROM MAKING AN ARREST FOR A VIOLATION OF THE LAWS IN RELATION TO CRUELTY TO ANIMALS; TO AMEND SECTION 47-1-140, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO THE CARE OF ANIMALS AFTER ARREST OF THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE ANIMAL, SO AS TO MAKE CONFORMING CHANGES DELETING REFERENCES TO ARRESTS BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE EXTINGUISHMENT OF A LIEN FOR THE EXPENSES FOR THE CARE AND PROVISION OF ANIMALS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; TO AMEND SECTION 47-1-150, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO SEARCH WARRANTS AND CUSTODY OF ANIMALS, SO AS TO MAKE CONFORMING CHANGES DELETING REFERENCES TO ORDERS BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS; AND TO REPEAL SECTION 47-1-160 RELATING TO THE DISPOSITION OF FINES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THE CHAPTER REGARDING CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. – ratified title
View full text          View Vote History

01/17/13 House Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 9)
01/17/13 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary (House Journal-page 9)
03/19/14 House Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Weeks
03/20/14 House Committee report: Favorable Judiciary (House Journal-page 7)
03/24/14 Scrivener’s error corrected
03/26/14 House Member(s) request name added as sponsor: R.L.Brown
03/26/14 House Read second time (House Journal-page 38)
03/26/14 House Roll call Yeas-68 Nays-39 (House Journal-page 38)
03/27/14 House Read third time and sent to Senate (House Journal-page 19)
03/27/14 Senate Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 5)
03/27/14 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary (Senate Journal-page 5)
04/25/14 Senate Referred to Subcommittee: Hutto (ch), Allen, Hembree, Shealy, Young
05/21/14 Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary (Senate Journal-page 12)
05/22/14 Senate Committee Amendment Adopted (Senate Journal-page 45)
05/27/14 Senate Read second time (Senate Journal-page 21)
05/27/14 Senate Roll call Ayes-40 Nays-0 (Senate Journal-page 21)
05/28/14 Senate Read third time and returned to House with amendments (Senate Journal-page 37)
06/03/14 House Read third time and returned to Senate with amendments (House Journal-page 86)
06/03/14 House Senate amendment amended (House Journal-page 86)
06/03/14 House Roll call Yeas-95 Nays-0 (House Journal-page 87)
06/04/14 Senate Concurred in House amendment and enrolled (Senate Journal-page 11)
06/05/14 Ratified R 292
06/06/14 Signed By Governor
06/13/14 Effective date 06/06/14
06/16/14 Act No. 251

The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act will save lives

 

By BY NATHANIEL FIELDS

One in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. Additionally, intimate partner violence costs the U.S. economy $8.3 billion per year through a combination of medical costs and lost productivity, according to the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. This issue is truly a national public health crisis.

In light of these shocking statistics, Congress must seize the opportunity it currently has to make a tremendous difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence. The Congressional Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations is considering H.R.1258, The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, which, if passed, will provide greatly needed protections and funding to both victims of domestic violence and their pets.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), proposes several measures to assist domestic violence survivors and their pets. It prohibits threats or acts of violence against pets via stalking or violating an order of protection and mandates restitution for veternary costs for the pet of a domestic violence survivor. It also provides critical funding for programs focused on housing and support services for survivors of domestic violence and their pets.

The public and even organizations that provide domestic violence services often overlook the connection between pets and domestic violence. When I first started working with survivors of domestic violence over 20 years ago, no one ever mentioned the possibility of bringing pets into a shelter. Today, two-thirds of U.S. households have a pet and, as a result, many sufferers of domestic violence are forced to consider the lives and well-being of their vulnerable pets in addition to their own. As many as 48 percent of domestic violence victims stay in abusive situations because they don’t want to leave their pet behind, resulting in further physical and emotional abuse of both the owner and their pet. The funding, services, and protections provided by the PAWS Act would mean that fewer people would have to make the heartbreaking decision between escaping to safety and staying in an abusive situation to protect their pet.

The Urban Resource Institute’s URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) program is the only program in New York City and one of the few nationally that allows domestic violence survivors to co-shelter (live in a domestic violence shelter apartment with their pets). In the more than two years that URIPALS has been in operation, we have learned a great deal about how abusers often harm pets in order to exercise control. In one such instance, a caller to URI’s emergency shelter hotline reported, “After he abused her, [her partner] grabbed her cats by the throat threatening to throw them out the window because he knows she loves her cats.” Abusers often also go beyond threats of violence toward pets. Another URIPALS client reported, “He would put my cat in the microwave and tie him up with twine if I didn’t come straight home from work.” Thirty-four percent of URI shelter residents who had a pet at any point while in an abusive relationship said their abusive partner inflicted physical harm on their pets.

In addition to the momentum it is gaining in the House, the bill has also received support in the Senate. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) have signed on as sponsors, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently voiced his support for the legislation. In addition to elected officials, leading domestic violence and animal welfare organizations including the ASPCA, The Humane Society, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence have thrown their support behind the bill.

Passage of the PAWS act would be a huge step forward in providing essential services for domestic violence survivors and their pets. At URI, we’ve seen firsthand how pets support the healing process for not only their owners but also for other families within a domestic violence shelter. The bill would also help to raise much needed awareness about the connection between domestic violence and pets, which many people do not yet understand.

Domestic violence is a public health crisis. If PAWS is passed, it will give much needed hope and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of families (pets included) who are forced on a daily basis to choose between staying in an abusive situation and leaving their beloved pets behind.

 

Animal Cruelty and Domestic Violence

By Bridget Birchett- November 26, 2016

Abusers of animals are five times as likely to harm humans. Nearly half of the victims who stay in violent households do so because they are afraid for their animals. Countless more never leave the home for this very reason. Companion animals like cats and dogs may be threatened or harmed; the vulnerability of other animals like horses may also make it difficult for victims to escape in emergencies. The “link” between violence against humans and animals is clear. But there are resources that can help.

Understanding the Cycle of Violence

After a violent episode, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, tension builds to a breaking point. The abuser blames the victim and minimizes the violence, then woos the victim back in a honeymoon phase, and the victim hopes the cycle is over. But the cycle repeats itself, almost without fail.

Many victims hope the violence will end or believe they can protect animals in the home. The truth is that a person who harms animals will likely harm humans–and a person who harms humans will almost certainly harm animals. Staying with an abuser puts every human and nonhuman in the home at risk.

Children in violent households, who have likely been abused themselves, represent one-fifth of domestic animal cruelty cases. When a child harms animals it can indicate that serious abuse has been inflicted on the child; consequently, animals are abused in nearly all households in which children have been abused. Furthermore, children who witness animal abuse are at greater risk of becoming abusers. Many violent offenders committed childhood acts of animal abuse.

H.R.11 – Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 113th Congress (2013-2014)

By Bridget Birchett- November 23, 2016

 

113TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION H. R. 11 To reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES JANUARY 22, 2013

Bill Summary

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 – Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) to add or expand definitions of several terms used in such Act.

Modifies or expands grant conditions under such Act, including requirements relating to: (1) nondisclosure of personally identifying information or other client information, (2) information sharing between grantees and subgrantees, (3) civil rights and nondiscrimination, (4) audits, and (5) nonprofit organizations.

Requires the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a biennial conferral process with state and tribal coalitions, technical assistance providers, and other key stakeholders on the administration of grants and related matters.

Requires the Attorney General to authorize in writing expenditures for DOJ conferences that exceed $20,000.

Title I: Enhancing Judicial and Law Enforcement Tools to Combat Violence Against Women – Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to authorize appropriations for FY2014-FY2018 for grants to: (1) combat violent crime against women (STOP grants); and (2) encourage governmental entities to implement policies, training programs, and best practices for recognizing, investigating, and prosecuting instances of domestic violence and violent sex crimes.

Amends the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 to expand the availability of competent pro bono legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and to authorize appropriations for such assistance for FY2014-FY2018.

Revises the grant programs for supporting families with a history of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to authorize the Attorney General to make grants to improve the response of the civil and criminal justice system to such families and to train court personnel in assisting such families.

Extends through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) the training of probation and parole officers to manage sex offenders, and (2) the Court-Appointed Special Advocate program.

Amends the federal criminal code with respect to the crime of stalking to prohibit the use of any interactive computer or electronic communication service to stalk victims.

Revises and reauthorizes through FY2018 the grant program for outreach strategies targeted at adult or youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking in underserved populations.

Title II: Improving Services for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking – Amends VAWA to extend through FY2018 grant programs to: (1) assist states, Indian tribes, and U.S. territories to establish, maintain, and expand rape crisis centers and other programs to assist victims of sexual assault; and (2) assist victims of domestic violence and other sexual assault crimes in rural areas.

Amends the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to extend through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for grants to end violence against women with disabilities.

Amends VAWA to authorize appropriations through FY2018 for the grant program to end elder abuse, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, exploitation, and neglect, and to provide training for law enforcement agencies to better serve victims of abuse in later life. Directs the Attorney General in awarding grants to end elder abuse to give priority to proposals for serving culturally specific and underserved populations.

Title III: Services, Protection, and Justice for Young Victims of Violence – Amends the Public Health Service Act to: (1) include tribal or territorial sexual assault coalitions in the grant program for rape prevention and education, and (2) extend through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for grants for rape prevention and education programs conducted by rape crisis centers. Establishes a minimum allocation of grant funding for states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and each U.S. territory.

Amends VAWA to replace certain grant programs for the protection of young victims of violent crimes with a program requiring the Attorney General, in collaboration with the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Secretary of Education, to award grants to enhance the safety of youth and children who are victims of, or exposed to, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking and to prevent future violence.

Amends the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 to revise, expand, and reauthorize through FY2018 the grant program for combating violent crimes on college campuses.

Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand requirements for the disclosure of campus security policies and crime statistics by institutions of higher education to require education programs to: (1) promote the awareness of rape and other violent sex crimes, (2) require disclosure of disciplinary proceedings involving rape and other violent sex crimes and the standard of evidence that will govern such proceedings, and (3) establish procedures for the protection of the confidentiality of crime victims.

Title IV: Violence Reduction Practices – Amends the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 to authorize appropriations for FY2014-FY2018 for grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to academic institutions and organizations to conduct research that examines best practices for reducing and preventing violence against women and children.

Amends VAWA to authorize the Attorney General, in consultation with the HHS Secretary and the Secretary of Education, to award grants to prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by taking a comprehensive approach that focuses on youth, children exposed to violence, and men as leaders and influencers of social norms (SMART Prevention grants).

Title V: Strengthening the Healthcare System’s Response to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking – Amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize, revise, and consolidate grant programs that address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Permits grant funds to be used for the development, expansion, and implementation of sexual assault forensic medical examination or sexual assault nurse examiner programs.

Revises requirements for training and education grants.

Title VI: Safe Homes for Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking – Amends VAWA with respect to housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Revises eligibility requirements for transitional housing assistance grants for child victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking to specify that any victims are eligible and extends the authorization of appropriations for such grants, but at decreased levels, for FY2014-FY2018.

Extends the authorization of appropriations, but also at decreased levels, for FY2014-FY2018 for: (1) collaborative grants to increase the long-term stability of victims, and (2) grants to combat violence against women in public and assisted housing.

Title VII: Economic Security for Victims of Violence – Amends VAWA to extend through FY2018 the authorization of appropriations for the grant program to establish and operate a national resource center on workplace responses to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Title VIII: Protection of Battered Immigrants – Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to: (1) expand the definition of nonimmigrant U-visa (victims of certain crimes) to include victims of stalking; (2) make a child of an alien who was a self-petitioner under VAWA eligible for lawful permanent resident status under such alien’s petition; (3) exclude from the public charge bar to admission an alien who is a VAWA self-petitioner, a U-visa applicant, or a battered spouse or child; (4) extend the conditions under which the hardship waiver of the two-year waiting period for permanent resident status may be granted to a battered alien spouse; and (5) expand the scope of criminal-related information that must be disclosed by a U.S. citizen petitioning for a nonimmigrant K-visa (alien fiancee or fiance);

Amends the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 to require DHS to: (1) conduct a background check of the National Crime Information Center’s Protection Order Database on each K-visa petitioner, and (2) include any appropriate information in the criminal background information provided to the alien fiance/fiancee.

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to authorize the DHS Secretary (in addition to the Attorney General) to disclose information relating to aliens who are victims of domestic violence to law enforcement officials for law enforcement purposes in a manner that protects the confidentiality of such information. Authorizes the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State to disclose such information to national security officials to be used solely for a national security purpose. Requires the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State to provide guidance to officers and employees of their respective departments regarding such disclosures of information.

Title IX: Safety for Indian Women – Amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to: (1) include sex trafficking as a target of the grants to Indian tribal governments to combat violent crime against Indian women, and (2) expand the purposes for which the Attorney General may award domestic violence and sexual assault prevention grants to Indian tribal coalitions.

Amends the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 to include the Secretary of the Interior, in addition to the HHS Secretary and the Attorney General, as a participant in consultations with Indian tribes regarding the administration of tribal funds and programs, enhancement of Indian women’s safety, and federal response to violent crimes against Indian women.

Gives Indian tribes criminal jurisdiction over domestic violence, dating violence, and violations of protective orders that occur on their lands. Makes that jurisdiction concurrent with federal and state jurisdiction. Requires Indian tribes prosecuting crimes of violence to: (1) prove that the defendant has requisite ties to the Indian tribe; (2) provide defendants the right to an impartial jury trial; and (3) notify a defendant of his or her rights, including the right to file a writ of habeas corpus in federal court.

Amends the federal criminal code to: (1) increase maximum penalties for assault convictions; and (2) impose criminal penalties on individuals who commit an assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner and who assault such spouse or partner by strangling or suffocating.

Reauthorizes appropriations for the national tribal sex offender registry and the tribal protection order registry for FY2014-FY2018.

Title X: Safer Act – Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting Act of 2013 or the SAFER Act of 2013 – Amends the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to authorize the Attorney General to make Debbie Smith grants under such Act to states or local governments to: (1) conduct audits of samples of sexual assault evidence that are awaiting testing, provided such governments submit an audit plan that includes a good-faith estimate of the number of such samples; and (2) ensure that the collection and processing of DNA evidence by law enforcement agencies from crimes is carried out in an appropriate and timely manner and in accordance with specified protocols and practices. Requires not less than 5% but not more than 7% of Debbie Smith grant funds distributed in FY2014-FY2017 to be awarded for such purposes if sufficient applications to justify such amounts are received by the Attorney General, provided such awards do not decrease funds for other distribution requirements.

Requires the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to: (1) develop and publish a description of protocols and practices for the accurate, timely, and effective collection and processing of DNA evidence, which shall address appropriate steps in the investigation of cases that might involve DNA evidence; and (2) make available technical assistance and training to support states and local governments in adopting and implementing such protocols and practices.

Requires the Attorney General to submit to Congress an annual report on: (1) grants awarded to states and local governments, (2) the number of deadline extensions granted by the Attorney General, and (3) the processing status of the samples of sexual assault evidence identified in Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reports.

Requires, for each fiscal year through FY2018, that not less than 75% of Debbie Smith grant amounts be awarded to carry out for inclusion in the Combined DNA Index System DNA analyses of samples collected under applicable legal authority and of samples collected from crime scenes and to increase the capacity of state or local government laboratories to carry out DNA analyses.

Requires the DOJ Inspector General to conduct audits of grant recipients to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Sunsets specified provisions of this Act regarding Debbie Smith grants for auditing sexual assault evidence backlogs on December 31, 2018.

Title XI: Other Matters – Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to allow a prisoner in federal custody to bring a suit against the United States for a mental or emotional injury if such injury resulted from the commission of a sexual act (currently, requires a prior showing of a physical injury). Amends the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 to direct the DHS Secretary to publish a final rule adopting national standards for the detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of rapes and sexual assaults in detention facilities against aliens detained for a violation of U.S. immigration law. Requires the HHS Secretary to publish a similar final rule for the protection of unaccompanied alien children in custodial facilities.

Amends the Communications Act of 1934, with respect to obscene or harassing telephone calls, to: (1) remove the intent to annoy requirement in the definition of such crime; and (2) include any specific person as an intended victim of such crime (currently, any person at the called number or who receives the communication).

Amends VAWA to extend through FY2018 the grant programs for: (1) improving and implementing processes for entering data on stalking and domestic violence into crime information databases, and (2) appointing victim/witness counselors for the prosecution of sex crimes and domestic violence crimes.

Amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to authorize appropriations for FY2014-FY2018 for child abuse and neglect technical assistance and training programs for judicial personnel and attorneys practicing in juvenile and family courts.