According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
In an effort to combat domestic violence in our state, we evaluate our laws throughout the year. The Regular Session provides us an opportunity to strengthen our existing laws and add new protections.
This week, the House passed two significant measures concerning domestic violence.
HB1420 directs an additional court cost of twenty-five dollars to be assessed if an individual is convicted of domestic abuse or is the respondent on a permanent order of protection. The money will be used to administer grants to domestic violence shelters.
Last year more than 11,000 Arkansans sought help in a domestic violence shelter. Arkansas has just 32 such shelters across the state. The number of people seeking assistance in shelters is increasing, but funding is not.
HB1420 paves a way to provide that additional funding without a cost to taxpayers. This bill places the cost on those committing the abuse.
The second piece of domestic violence legislation we passed this week was HB1534.
This bill allows a judge to issue an order directing a cell phone provider to transfer billing and rights of a cell phone number to the person seeking protection from domestic abuse. This legislation aims to not only provide victims of abuse with access to contacts of family and friends but it also protects records on their location. This legislation currently exist in 6 other states.
In the last Regular Session, we passed Act 873 which created Laura’s Card. This requires law enforcement officer to provide a resource of information to assist victims and their families when they are called out on reports of suspected domestic abuse.
If you need information on domestic violence shelters or assistance programs in your area visit www.LaurasCard.ar.gov .