by Pat Raia, [email protected]
A pair of bills that aim at protecting domestic violence victims, as well as the staff and volunteers of domestic violence shelters, are on their way to the full State Senate. They’ve been passed by the Senate’s Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs. The bills, SB 70 and SB 68 advanced through Committee by unanimous votes.
Filed by Miami Republican Senator Ileana Garcia, SB 70 makes it a first-degree misdemeanor for any person to maliciously publish, disseminate, or disclose any descriptive information or image that may identify the location of a certified domestic violence center. Anyone convicted of a second or subsequent violation could face felony charges.
SB 68 exempts from public records the home addresses, telephone numbers, photographs, and dates of birth of former and current staff members, volunteers, and their families of Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)-certified domestic violence centers.
Shannon Sokolowski, executive director of the Dawn Center, a DCF certified domestic and sexual violence center, located in Hernando County, said the legislation provides another tool for keeping victims and advocates safe.
“Survivors of domestic violence are turning to domestic violence centers during their hour of need, and this legislation will help us to better provide them with necessary services,” Sokolowski said. “The advocates who work in these centers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own safety or their families’ safety while doing the important work that they do.”
If passed by the full State Senate, SB 70 would become effective on July 1.
SB 68 would become effective upon becoming law.