Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 Things You Need to Know about Ohio House Bill 319 - Address Confidentiality Program

from OAESV

1. What is an Address Confidentiality Program? - An Address Confidentiality Program is a program that will protect the personal address information of victims of violent crimes. Because some databases used by public agencies (such as voter registration records) are available for public review, a victim who is trying to participate in society without risking further abuse may not feel at ease while exercising their basic rights, signing up for public assistance, or interacting with any state agency.

2. Bill History: On December 8, 2009, State Representative Kathleen Chandler (D-68) introduced a bill to the Ohio House of Representatives calling for an Address Confidentiality Program to be implemented in Ohio. As of April 14, 2010, House Bill 391 has passed through the Ohio House unanimously and moved into the Senate. The Senate's State and Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committee did not schedule a hearing for House Bill 391 before taking their summer recess. A hearing is expected to be scheduled when the Ohio Legislature reconvenes in the next few weeks. As a result, action to help pass HB 391 is needed today.

3. What steps can I take to help ensure passage of House Bill 391? - By contacting your State Senator, you can show your support of this program and encourage its swift passage in to law. Please use the Ohio Senator locator tool to determine who your State Senator is and how to contact them. Read the information below to formulate your argument for the importance of passing H.B. 391. Reach out to your constituents, members of your board of directors, membership, those you serve - and let them know that without increased pressure on our State Senators, H.B. 391 may not have a final hearing. Please remember, however, that all communication to the senators should remain positive.

4. How will an Address Confidentiality Program help to protect victims of violent crimes? - An Address Confidentiality Program is designed to prevent offenders from using state and local government records to locate their victims by substituting an ACP participant's true address with an address designated by the Secretary of State. By using an alternate address, a P.O. Box rather than a physical address, a victim may be able to more fully protect themselves from their abusers.

5. How does someone participate in an Address Confidentiality Program? - Under the current draft of this legislation, a participant will complete an application and send it to the Secretary of State's office. They could also apply through an Application Assistant as part of a "Safety Plan," or directly at the Secretary of State's office.

6. What steps will be in place to protect a participant's personal information? - Victims who reasonably fear for their safety may enroll in an Address Confidentiality Program, which will shield their true home, work, or school address from the public. The Secretary of State's office will maintain a post office box address which program participants will use as a substitute for this information. Governmental entities will be prohibited from making a participant's true address part of public record, and will be required to accept the substitute address in place of a participant's true address. Law enforcement personnel will be able to access an ACP participant's information through secure channels in the event of an emergency, as established via a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary of State's office and the office of the Ohio Attorney General.

7. How will victims find information regarding an Address Confidentiality Program? - The program will utilize coordination of information-sharing amongst service providers serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Secretary of State's office will work collaboratively to ensure that statewide, regional, and county officials assisting victims have information about the newly-developed program. This will be accomplished through the use of partnerships with various non-profit organizations, public service announcements, and targeted media outreach efforts.

8. 37 other states have an Address Confidentiality Program. Why doesn't Ohio? - Although previous attempts to pass this type of legislation have stalled here in Ohio, now is the time for this well-positioned and well-timed legislation to move forward, to help protect victims in Ohio.

9. Please remember, your help is needed to pass HB 391 and action is needed NOW. The Ohio Senate must hear from members of the community that serve victims to understand the importance of extending this crucial type of protection to those that have lived in fear long enough. Contact your state senators and educate them about how this bill will impact the lives of survivors that you know in Ohio.

10. For more information or to find out how to assist with House Bill 391 and the Address Confidentiality Program which would result from its passing, please contact Dean Hindenlang at: Dean M. Hindenlang Strategic Planning & Projects Coordinator Voting Rights Institute Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner 180 East Broad Street, 15th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215 (614) 995-1619 - Phone *A special thank you to OAESV Board Vice President, Dean M. Hindenlang, and the Voting Rights Institute at the Ohio Secretary of State for their assistance in providing OAESV with information about HB 391.

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