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Senate unanimously passes domestic violence, sexual abuse protection bill

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate passed legislation Tuesday adding protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking when it comes to living situations.

Championed by state Sen. Lauren Arthur, the Senate unanimously passed SB 60 Tuesday afternoon, a bill making it easier for victims to move out of an abusive home. In particular, Arthur’s bill prohibits victims of domestic or sexual violence or stalking from being denied tenancy, evicted from a home, or found to be in violation of a lease agreement if he or she is a victim or in imminent danger.  

State Sen. Lauren Arthur

“Victims of domestic violence who have been trapped in dangerous situations by their abuser should not also be trapped in their homes by legal red tape,” Arthur, a Democrat, said in a statement to The Missouri Times following the passage of the bill. “I appreciate the Senate for their bipartisan support, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Missouri House of Representatives to pass this legislation so we can help victims escape abuse, seek safety, and begin the healing process.”

The legislation does have built-in protections for landlords and lays out specific instructions for documentation that can be provided to landlords in order to accommodate victims. It also gives landlords the ability to impose a termination fee for someone who wishes to end a lease early due to a violent or dangerous situation.

Arthur has said she first became aware of the problem when she was a state representative and met with a domestic violence survivor who was able to move out of an abusive home. However, with her name still on the lease and her former partner not paying rent, the woman was hit with additional financial burdens, including an eventual eviction on her record, and struggled to find affordable, quality housing.

“Without this legislation, victims may be reluctant to leave a situation, or if they find the courage to do so, could face legal and financial problems,” Arthur said from the Senate floor last week. “Making it easier for them to relocate will help them heal, keep them safe, and ease at least one burden during this most difficult time.”

“Victims of domestic violence who have been trapped in dangerous situations by their abuser should not also be trapped in their homes by legal red tape.”

The bill includes an amendment from Republican state Sen. Bob Onder who told The Missouri Times the legislation’s passage was a “big victory.”

Onder’s amendment says anyone who knowingly manages, operates, or owns an interactive computer service that promotes or facilitates the prostitution of another person will have committed the offense of promoting prostitution in the first degree. He said it’s a state-level version of the federal FOSTA legislation signed by President Donald Trump last year since the vast majority of trafficking prosecutions occur at the state level.

Senate perfects domestic violence, sexual assault protection bill