P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2009
AUSTIN — The Senate Committee on Jurisprudence today approved two pieces of legislation authored by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound – SB 82, requiring offenders to pay a fee to support local shelters, and SB 83, making it easier for victims to terminate a lease contract. The bills now move to the full Senate for consideration on the local & uncontested calendar.
"When someone makes the brave choice to break the cycle of abuse, we need to support that decision by helping survivors rebuild their lives in a safe, supportive environment," Senator Nelson said. "That often requires relocating to an address away from the offender, which is why we are seeking a hold-harmless provision for early lease termination and additional funding for shelters."
Specifically, SB 82 requires domestic violence offenders, as a condition of probation, to pay a fee of up to $100 to support local services for victims. This will generate an additional $2 to $5 million in funding, which is needed to offset a $4.3 million reduction of federal funding under the Victims of Crime Act.
SB 83 allows victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault to terminate their lease without penalty, even if the perpetrator is not on the lease, in cases of documented abuse. It also allows the parents of child victims of sexual abuse to terminate their leases in certain situations.
In 2007, there were 189,439 incidents of family violence in Texas, according to Texas Council on Family Violence. Almost 12,000 adults and 16,000 children receive services from a shelter each year, but nearly 20 percent of those seeking services are turned away due to a lack of funding.