One Year Later: Governor Wolf Secures Full Domestic Violence Plan

October 25, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – One year after he first called on legislators to pass a package of domestic violence bills, Governor Tom Wolf signed the remaining piece of legislation from that package into law.

By signing Senate Bill 919, now Act 148 of 2018, Governor Wolf builds on his support for victims of domestic violence and completes the passage of a package of bills he urged legislators to pass on October 24, 2017. The package included Senate bills 449, 500, 501, 502 and 919. In April of this year he asked House leaders and committee chairs to send him those same bills that had passed overwhelmingly in the Senate.

“Signing this final domestic violence bill into law is gratifying and I thank the General Assembly for getting this bill to my desk,” Governor Wolf said. “But, this doesn’t stop the need to continue to push for additional legislation to decrease the prevalence of domestic violence and to protect victims. I will continue to work with legislators, advocates and victims to be sure we are doing all we can to increase protections against domestic violence.”

Governor Wolf signed various domestic violence bills into law from April to October, including Act 79 of 2018, a reform long-sought by domestic violence and gun safety advocates to keep guns from abusers and honor all the victims of domestic violence that have lost their lives at the hands of their abuser with a firearm.

The final bill, sponsored by Senator Art Haywood, is a victim protection bill regarding housing options and emergency transfers. The bill allows a housing authority tenant who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence to request relocation if the domestic or sexual violence occurred on or near the home within 90 calendar days of the request. The tenant may also request relocation if they believe they are in imminent harm from domestic or sexual violence if they remain in the home.

“Safety and security are crucial elements of helping crime victims,” Jennifer Storm, PA Victim Advocate said. “Providing immediate access to safe and secure housing when victims of domestic violence and sexual assault need to quickly exit dangerous living conditions helps to remove bureaucratic barriers. I applaud Governor Wolf for swiftly signing this potentially life-saving and bi-partisan legislation.”

“Every person needs and deserves access to safe housing environments where they can thrive,” said Donna Greco, PCAR policy director. “Too often, sexual assault undermines the housing security of victims throughout the commonwealth. In fact, most sexual assaults occur in or near victims’ homes, making relocation one of the most common and urgent needs following these crimes. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) is grateful to Senator Haywood for partnering with us and other stakeholders in drafting this legislation. SB 919 will enable victims of sexual and domestic violence to safely and quickly relocate—aligning Pennsylvania with federal housing protections and most importantly, protecting victims from further assaults. We thank Governor Wolf for signing this important legislation.”

“Access to safe housing is one of the most considerable barriers for victims trying to leave abusive situations,” said Julie Bancroft, chief public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “SB 919 prioritizes victim safety by allowing individuals to escape an abusive environment. This legislation would enable victims of domestic and sexual violence living in public housing the option of rapid relocation to another housing unit. We thank Governor Wolf for signing another critical, but common sense law to improve safety for victims on the heels of landmark domestic violence legislation.”

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