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Politics

Michigan lawmakers introduce legislation to protect survivors of domestic violence

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A package of bills in the state Senate are designed to protect survivors of domestic abuse.

The bills would protect victims of domestic abuse or stalking from being removed from housing, allow them to use employer sick-time to get help, and have their names removed from court documents.

Those bills include SB602, 603, 604, 605, and 606.

Democratic State Senator Winnie Brinks is a sponsor on the package. She said she used to work with individuals trying to retain their employment and encountered women who struggled to find the time to get help.

“It was very difficult for people to do what they needed to do in order to exit an abusive relationship simply because they couldn’t get over to a police department during the right hours,” she said.

Under the legislation employees might be required to prove they were using their sick time to address domestic abuse by providing evidence such as a police report.

The bill package would also add Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act protections against housing discrimination on the basis of a persons status as a survivor of domestic violence.

Additionally, the package would prohibit the eviction of tenants because of contacts made to police due to stalking or assault.

Brinks said landlords could grow nervous if police have been called on a residence due to stalking or domestic violence.

“I think in a tight housing market there might be landlords who aren’t as tolerant as they should be,” she said. “This would provide that legal protection.”

Democratic State Senator Rosemary Bayer introduced another part of the legislation. She said the legislation is a step forward in making sure Michigan protects survivors of violence.

“It takes this notion that you’ve been damaged because of this violence and protects you in all the same ways you are if you get injured in any other way.”

Sponsors said anecdotally they’ve heard legislators on both sides of the aisle voice support for the bills - but whether they will pass remains to be seen.

Similar legislation was also introduced in the state House.