LaFASA is committed to keeping our members and community partners informed about any public policy changes that will affect survivors and/or those who serve them. For your convenience, our staff have highlighted and summarized a few important bills from the 2017 Louisiana Legislative session.
The “Same Sex Dating Partners” Bill (House Bill 27)
For the purposes of eligibility for domestic abuse assistance (like protective orders, largely) and the application of the criminal charges of domestic abuse battery and domestic abuse aggravated assault, this bill amends the definition of “household member” by removing the requirements that (a) a “household member” must be a person of the opposite sex, and (b) the persons were formerly or presently living together as spouses, whether married or not. It also adds the requirement that the persons are presently or were formerly involved in a sexual or intimate relationship.
HB 27 has passed the House and Senate and has been sent to the Governor for executive approval.
The “Dating Partners” Bill (House Bill 223)
Creates the crimes of battery of a dating partner and aggravated assault upon a dating partner and expands the applicability of other laws relative to domestic abuse to include abuse among dating partners. It should be noted that the bill originally set out to expand the application of current domestic abuse criminal statutes to include “dating partners,” not merely “household members” or “family members.” However, because there are firearm possession restrictions attached to the current law, the NRA applied pressure to beholden legislators, resulting in the amendments that created new crimes that do not carry firearm restrictions as stringent as current law relating to domestic abuse of “household members” and “family members.”
HB 223 passed the House (59-30); passed the Senate (23-14) and returned to the House with amendments. It is scheduled for concurrence on June 4, 2017.
The Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights (House Bill 309)
The “sexual assault survivor’s bill of rights” centralizes victims’ rights provisions for sexual assault survivors and provides new rights, including sexual assault advocate accompaniment at forensic medical examinations. The bill also amends a section of law – that previously applied only to minors but now applies to all victims of sex offenses – which establishes a framework, including notice to survivors and a contradictory hearing before a party in a criminal matter can obtain a survivor’s medical or mental health records.
HB 309 passed the House (100-0) and passed the Senate with amendments (32-0) and has been returned to the House with amendments.