Governor Signs Landmark Victims' Protections Bills 

August 12, 2014

Statement on Governor Hassan Signing 6 Landmark Victims’ Protections Bills

Advocates, lawmakers, and survivors celebrate Joshua’s Law, Human Trafficking, Termination of Rapists’ Parental Rights, Sexual Abuse Prevention Education Commission, Pets Protections, and Workplace Protections for Victims Bills
 

(Concord, NH) Governor Hassan ceremoniously signed into law today 6 landmark pieces of legislation aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in New Hampshire. Notably, Joshua’s Law establishes the crime of domestic violence in New Hampshire. Among the other 5 bills, enhanced protections for human trafficking victims are enacted, termination of parental rights of rapists are addressed, a commission is established to study sexual abuse prevention education in schools, household and domesticated animals are given protection under the domestic violence statute, and a committee is established to examine workplace protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Statement from NHCADSV Director of Public Policy Amanda Grady Sexton:

“New Hampshire has historically been a leader in providing protections to victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as their children. With the passage of these comprehensive policies, New Hampshire has distinguished itself as being on the forefront of these protections across the country. With the passage of these laws, domestic violence will finally be recognized for exactly what it is, and prosecutors, law enforcement, community agencies, and advocates will be able to more readily help those who are suffering, as well as hold abusers accountable. We applaud Senator Soucy for her leadership on this important issue and for standing tall as a champion for victims’ protections in her sponsorship of Joshua’s Law, as well as Senate Bill 317.”

(Joshua’s Law was co-sponsored by Sen. David Boutin (Hooksett), Sen. David Watters (Dover), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (Laconia), Sen. Bob Odell (Lempster), Sen. Sam Cataldo (Farmington), Rep. Robert Cushing (Hampton), Rep. Gene Chandler (Bartlett), Rep. Shannon Chandley (Amherst), Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (Penacook), and Rep. Gene Charron (Chester). It will take effect January 1, 2015.)

“Senate Bill 317 enhances existing protections for human trafficking victims and gives prosecutors the tools they need to effectively prosecute traffickers. Additionally, it creates a civil right of action for trafficking victims and establishes mechanisms that will help them rebuild their lives after their trauma. In one year, New Hampshire will go from being rated second-to-worst in the country for trafficking victims protections to being aligned with best practices prescribed by the Polaris Project, the national authority on human trafficking.”

(SB 317 was co-sponsored by Sen. Sharon Carson (Londonderry), Sen. David Watters (Dover), Sen. David Boutin (Hooksett), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (Laconia), Sen. Sam Cataldo (Farmington), Sen. Molly Kelly (Keene), Rep. Robert Cushing (Hampton), Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (Penacook), Rep. Gene Chandler (Bartlett), Rep. Gene Charron (Chester), and Rep. Shannon Chandley (Amherst).  It will take effect October 23, 2014.)

“Senate Bill 253 was the result of an incredible concerted effort from a real cross section of organizations. The Coalition was proud to partner with such distinct partners as NH Legal Assistance, NARAL NH, Cornerstone Policy Research, NH Catholic Charities, The Diocese of Manchester, and Ending The Violence on this important bill, which will protect rape victims who become pregnant as a result of their sexual assault, and their children, from further abuse from their rapist. We applaud Senator Lasky for her initiative on this critical legislation.”

(SB 253 was co-sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Forrester (Meredith), Sen. Donna Soucy (Manchester), Sen. Sharon Carson (Londonderry), Rep. Shannon Chandley (Amherst), and Rep. Robert Cushing (Hampton). It will take effect January 1, 2015.)

“We are very pleased to have a seat at the table for the multidisciplinary commission established by Senate Bill 348, which seeks to examine the issue of sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools. The commission is charged with studying current practices and legislation in other jurisdictions regarding this education, including the activities and practices of state and local agencies and community organizations. Further, they will identify model-based curricula for sexual abuse prevention education; make recommendations for utilizing trained professionals to implement these curricula; identify opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders; and identify potential funding needs and sources to support increased sexual abuse prevention education in schools.  We look forward to engaging in this meaningful discussion that stands to benefit the children of the Granite State.”

(SB 348 took effect June 16, 2014.)

“House Bill 1410 adds animal cruelty to the definition of "abuse" under the domestic violence relief statute, and allows a judge to grant the petitioner of a domestic violence protective order exclusive care, custody, or control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the victim, the abuser, or a minor child in the household, and further allows a judge to order the abuser stay away from the pet in both temporary and final domestic violence protective orders. Unfortunately, the need for this bill is very real: We know that oftentimes abusers will exploit their victims’ love and affection for a family pet to maintain their power and control over them. Those working in domestic violence advocacy see and hear these stories every day. Children’s beloved pets are threatened, harmed, or killed unless victims are compliant; family dogs are run over with cars; and victims are reluctant to leave an abusive situation for fear of what will happen to their pet, which may be the only thing sustaining them through their trauma. Extending this protection to household and domesticated animals is not only protecting the animals themselves, but makes it easier for victims and their children to escape abusive situations. We applaud Representative Webb, as well as Chief David Goldstein of the Franklin Police Department, for spearheading this important legislation.”

(HB 1410 was co-sponsored by Rep. Linda Tanner (Georges Mills), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (Laconia), and Sen. Fuller Clark (Portsmouth). It took effect July 21, 2014.)

“Senate Bill 390 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are victims of domestic violence. Specifically, it prohibits employers from refusing to hire an otherwise qualified individual on the basis of the candidate being a victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking. The bill further prohibits firing, threatening to fire, demoting, suspending, discriminating, or retaliating against an individual based on their status as a victim. Any employer who engages in such activity will be subject to a civil penalty to be imposed by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor. Additionally, the bill establishes a committee to study how state laws, rules, and employment practices may be used to protect employees who are victims of domestic violence. Those working in the field see all too often that victims’ employment suffers as a result of their abuse, and we need to raise awareness of this issue to enable employers and survivors to come up with reasonable accommodation solutions to the problems created by these traumatic circumstances. We applaud Senator Hosmer’s work on this bill and look forward to the committee’s findings.”

(SB 390 was co-sponsored by Sen. David Pierce (Etna), Sen. Jeff Woodburn (Dalton), Sen. Bette Lasky (Nashua), Sen. Donna Soucy (Manchester), Sen. Molly Kelly (Keene), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (Manchester), and Rep. David Huot (Laconia). The prohibitions piece of the bill will take effect September 9, 2014. The study committee provision took effect July 11, 2014.)

“We want to thank Governor Hassan and the Legislature for their outstanding support of these initiatives. Because of their leadership on these issues, New Hampshire stands at the national forefront of victims’ protections legislation, and we could not be more grateful for such a successful year.”

For more information, please contact Amanda Grady Sexton at 603-548-9377 or email Amanda@nhcadsv.org

About the Coalition
NHCADSV is a statewide network of 14 independent member programs committed to ending sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking, through direct services to victims, community education, and public policy advocacy. The NHCADSV and its 14 member programs do not discriminate based on gender, age, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental, or emotional ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socio-economic status, race, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation. For more information visit www.nhcadsv.org

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