Schatz Introduces Companion Legislation to Violence Against Women Act
US Senators Brian Schatz and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced companion legislation to the House-passed Violence Against Women Act.
The bill would reauthorize VAWA through 2024, preserve advancements made in previous reauthorizations and include a number of additional improvements to the current law. Hawai‘i programs received more than $2 Million from VAWA this year.
“For 25 years, VAWA has provided support, shelter, and a new chance at life for women and children in Hawai‘i and across the country,” said Schatz. “This bill will strengthen vital services, improve prevention programs, and increase housing and financial assistance for survivors – ensuring that more Americans can live free from violence and abuse.”
This legislation was cosponsored by every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Key provisions in the bill include:
Protects Native American women by improving tribal access to federal crime information databases and reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking for all federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives.
Explicitly states that grant recipients are allowed to train staff and others on identifying and stopping discrimination against LGBT individuals. Service providers currently remain uncertain about whether they can use grants to train for this.
Reauthorizes and updates the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to violence, and engage men in preventing violence.
Expands grants under the Public Health Service Act to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.
Provides services, protection, and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program, addressing bullying of young people, improving grants focused on prevention education for students, and expanding relevant training for school-based and campus health centers.
Preserves and expands housing protections for survivors.
Provides economic security assistance for survivors by reauthorizing the National Resource Center on Workplace Responses. Protects employees from being fired because they are survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence and protects survivors’ eligibility to receive unemployment insurance.
Enhances judicial and law enforcement tools through reauthorization of the Justice Department’s STOP Violence Against Women Formula Program, known as the STOP Program. Authorizes the use of STOP Program grants to expand the use of grant funding for programs focused on increasing survivor, law enforcement and community safety; increases legal assistance for dependent children in appropriate circumstances; and develops and enforces firearm surrender policies.
Protects the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women from being merged or consolidated into any other Justice Department office.
Helps prevent “intimate partner” homicides by including provisions expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms, prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms, and prohibiting individuals subject to ex parte protective orders from possessing firearms.