2/4/13 VAWA comes up for vote in Senate this week

From NNEDV:

The Senate’s bipartisan bill to reauthorize VAWA, S. 47, will come up for a vote this week.  The bill will be considered on today, Monday, February 4 and up for a vote on Thursday, February 7.

S. 47 now has 60 co-sponsors – due in large part to all of your calls!  This should guarantee VAWA’s passage in the Senate.  However, there is a possibility that amendments could be introduced on the floor that would attach non-germane provisions to VAWA and could slow down forward movement on the bill.  Please call your Senators today and Monday, and urge them to vote yes on S. 47, without amendments!

Call Senator Tom Udall at 202-224-6621 and Senator Martin Heinrich at 202-224-6621.  I just called and it took me two minutes to call both.  Very easy.  Follow the script below.

1)            I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.

(I think you should also say you are part of the NM Coalition, then say which community you serve)

2)            I urge Senator____ to vote yes on S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act – and to oppose any amendments that are introduced.

3)            Thank you and I look forward to hearing that the Senator has voted for VAWA.

We are optimistic that the Senate will pass a strong bill– and then we can turn our attention to the House and to getting a final VAWA that safely and effectively protects all victims!

 

2/1/13 VAWA Update

From Daniel Manzano, NMCADV Policy Director:

We have some serious action on finally reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.  S. 47 (Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) is looking like it will be heard as soon as Monday on the Senate Floor.  In the Senate it takes a super majority to pass the chamber meaning 60 votes.  VAWA just got it’s 60th co sponsor this week so it looks like it will pass.  This year’s bill is a lot like last year’s bill with a few exceptions.  They sound scary, but keep reading for the explanation.

The VAWA authorization level has been cut by 17%, from an authorization level of $795 million to $659.3 million.  BUT, we’ve never, ever been appropriated that much.  We’ve been operating our current VAWA budgets at a appropriation of $450 million.  Note the huge difference between an authorization and an appropriation.  The authorization level is the max dollar amount VAWA can receive, whereas the appropriation is the actually line item in the budget that gets dispersed to the DOJ for VAWA.

The other big difference is for immigrant women.  Again, wait for the explanation before your freak out.  They have taken out the provision of more U – Visas on this year’s version.  The reason this was done was to allow this provision to be included in the immigration comprehensive reform package.
Last year we were 1 of 330 programs who supported the Senate bill, this year we are 1 of 784 program who has sign on.

We are supporting S. 47 which includes the protections to the Native Americans and the LGBT communities, and the protections remain the same for the immigrant women, just not expanded on.  We are also supporting the house version this year.  Last year they had a terrible version, this year it passes the test.  The house version is H.R. 11.

Again, Monday seems to be the day for action.  I will send out the CSPAN link when it starts.  FYI – Both our US Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are co sponsors.  Again, the Senate version is bi-partisan.

For any questions please feel free to email me or call me at 505-553-5521

1/23/13 VAWA Reintroduced!

Breaking News Alert: VAWA Reintroduced – Contact Your Senators Today!
Yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)! This bill closely mirrors the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence.

In order to continue our incredible momentum from last Congress, contact your Senators today and urge them to co-sponsor S. 47. Our goal is to get 60 co-sponsors by January 31st so that VAWA can move to the Senate floor for a bipartisan victory. Call your Senators now!

As of right now, the bill has the following co-sponsors in addition to its chief sponsors, Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID): Senators Ayotte (R-NH), Bennet (D-CO), Cantwell (D-WA), Casey (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Hagan (D-NC), Kirk (R-IL), Klobuchar (D-MN), McCaskill (D-MO), Mikulski (D-MD), Murkowski (R-AK), Murray (D-WA), Shaheen (D-NH), Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-CO), and Whitehouse (D-RI).

Action Item:
Call the Capitol switchboard at 888.269.5702 and ask the operator to connect you to your Senators. If you don’t know who your Senators are, you can look them up here. When you’re connected to their offices, tell the person who answers the phone:

1) I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.
2) I urge Senator____ to co-sponsor the S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
3) Thank you and I look forward to hearing that the Senator is a co-sponsor.

VAWA Update – 1/22/13

We just wanted to let you know that bills to reauthorize VAWA are being introduced in both the Senate and the House shortly. We are heartened by this development and see it as a sign that the process to reauthorize VAWA is alive and well!

Senators Leahy and Crapo are hosting a press conference tomorrow (1/23/13) at 2:30pm Eastern time. Kim Gandy and Monika Johnson Hostler (with NAESV) were invited by the Senators to be the two advocates who will give remarks during the press conference. If it’s available to watch on TV or streaming on the web, we’ll let you know!

Bill details
Senate:
The Senate bill that will be introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VA) and Crapo (R-ID) will parallel S. 1925 from the 112th Congress, but will remove some of the provisions not supported by advocates or not germane to VAWA. The Senate also removed the U-Visa provision because it created a procedural snag (“the blue slip” problem). Advocates are hopeful that the U-Visa recapture can be addressed by the Administration or in comprehensive immigration reform, and that a final bill will safely and effectively protect all victims.

The following Senators have already signed on as co-sponsors: Ayotte (R-NH), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Mikulski (D-MD) and Murkowski (R-AK).

House:
The House bill that will be introduced by Representatives Moore (D-WI) and Conyers (D-MI) is a companion to the Senate bill. The House bill was introduced by Democrats but we are hopeful that it will gain Republican co-sponsors. It currently has 140 co-sponsors (all Dems), including 100% of Dem women.

As you know, VAWA reauthorization creates the opportunity to meet the needs of more victims by including key improvements to protect and provide safety and access to justice for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims, as well as victims on college campuses and in communities of color. Additionally, a reauthorized VAWA should strengthen housing protections to provide emergency housing transfer options for survivors, as well as implementation of transparent and effective accountability measures that support and strengthen, rather than undermine, those programs that assist victims.

Opening Day 2013- Leadership Elections 

House Leadership Elections: Rep. Kenny Martinez (D) from Grants, was elected as the new Speaker of the House. Rep. Rick Miera (D) from Albuquerque replaces Martinez as the Majority Floor Leader, and Rep. Moe Maestas will be Majority Whip.  There was actually a change in leadership on the minority side as well. Republicans voted for Tom Bratton (R) from Hobbs to replace Tom Taylor (R) from Farmington as the new Minority Floor Leader.  Rep. Nate Gentry (R) from Albuquerque will be the Minority Whip.

Senate Leadership Elections: Sen. Mary Kay Papen (D) from Las Cruces was unanimously elected the President of the Senate. I believe she is the first woman ever elected to that post.  The Majority Floor Leader will remain Sen. Michael Sanchez (D) from Belen and Sen. Tim Keller (D) from Albuquerque  will be the new Majority Whip.  The Republicans kept the same leadership, which includes Sen. Stuart Ingle (R) from Portales as Minority Floor Leader, and Sen. William Payne (R) from Albuquerque as the Minority Whip.

2013 NMCADV Legislative Priorities

By NMCADV Public Policy Committee 

                The 2013 Legislative priorities were approved and voted on at the August Public Policy Committee on August 9, 2012.  The list was made formal earlier than usual to accommodate events with state elected official around the state, such as governmental round tables, interim legislative committees, and one on one meetings.  It was determined that the more time we have to engage and work with our elected officials during the interim, the better our messages and ideas will stick during the legislative session.  Below is our approved list.

1.       Budgets!!!

  • This is every program’s #1 priority.  Recent state revenue projections are showing more money than expected.  We are hoping that trend continues.  We are adamant that there should be no cuts to our budget, and will be requesting no less than $1.0 million in additional funds.

2.        Strangulation Bill

  • We have tried this bill for a couple of sessions, but now we are working with District Attorneys to see if they would either carry this bill or support us.  Strangulation is one of the most lethal forms of violence used by abusers against their intimate partners. Strangulation is a form of asphyxia in which blood vessels and air passages are closed as a result of external pressure on the neck. The act of strangulation symbolizes an abuser’s power and control over the victim.   We would be adding the definition of strangulation into the aggravated assault statute.

3.       Confidential Address Program

  • The Confidential Address Program allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other types of identified crimes to receive mail at a confidential address, while keeping their actual address undisclosed.  This program is administered through the Secretary of State’s office.  This mailing address is then a legal substitute address on public records.  Service providers have expressed a concern on the credibility of the program.  There are currently no procedures or rules as to how the program should be run.  We approached the Secretary of State and suggested a working group to create some procedures and to possibly add language to the current statutes.   We will hope to improve this program as it is another great tool for certain victims to use.

4.       Missing Person Bill

  • The missing person’s bill was created to protect missing women as a direct response to the West Mesa Murders in Albuquerque. We are 100% behind this, except there is a procedural loop hole.  Technically an abuser can report his victim who fled for her safety as “missing”.  According to State Police, they are then required to find the “missing” person and report their status and location to the family who is concerned for their safety.  Basically an abuser can use the police to track down their fleeing victim.  A simple fix to this statute would be to allow law enforcement to find the missing person, then ask them if they are ok and if they want to be found.  Then simply report a status to the reporting family that states they are ok without disclosing their location.

5.       Sunshine Portal

  • The sunshine portal was created to bring transparency and accountability to how state government spends tax dollars.  It is a website that anyone can log into and track government spending, budgets, revenues, employees, contracts and more.  More specifically, if you are a public employee with the state, your position, salary, title, and work location are publically disclosed.  This is a problem if you feel your safety is at risk from either a stalker, or an abuser looking for you.  We want to provide public employees with the ability to go to their supervisor and request that their information be taken off or at the very least, their name to be taken down from this website – if their safety is in question.

6.       Early Lease and Housing Termination for Victims of Domestic Violence

  • The NMCADV would like to provide a statute to allow a tenant to terminate a rental agreement if the tenant provides to the landlord written notice that the tenant is a victim of domestic violence.   We are still in the discussion stage of this item, but I wanted to include this because a number of our partners in the housing and homelessness arena are applauding us taking this on.  More details to come.

August 2012 Update

We are all moved in and fully operational in our new Albuquerque office.  We are located at 320 Gold Ave in the New Mexico Bank and Trust building, on the 11th floor suite 1119.  Stop by and say hi when you are downtown.

Latest on VAWA

There has been a lot of back and forth up in Washington D.C. on trying to get a strong, bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to the president for signature.  Unfortunately, it’s been a lot of press conferences and debate, but we are no closer to an outcome as we were the last time I sent out an update.  At the end of this week, Congress will be going on a long vacation.  They don’t get back until September, so it seems very unlikely that a VAWA will be passed before the elections in November.  What exactly does this mean for funding?  Well, ideally we would want to get VAWA reauthorized, but since that doesn’t seem likely, Congress has issued a continuing resolution.  This just means to keep funding government to continue running as it currently is until they can come up with a budget.  Actually, the last time a Federal budget was actually passed was over 3 years ago.  Since then, they have passed a series of these continuing resolutions.  Expect funding to stay roughly the same.  I’ll keep you up to date if anything changes.

Confidential Address Program Working Group

The Secretary of State offers a program called the Confidential Address Program.  The Confidential Address Program allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other types of identified crimes to receive mail at a confidential address, while keeping their actual address undisclosed.  This program is done through the Secretary of State’s office.  This mailing address is then a legal substitute address on public records.  Although this could be another great tool for victims to use to ensure their safety, there has been a history of weak program management resulting in low credibility for the program.  The Secretary of State’s office has never sat down with DV advocates to create and develop policy and program procedure to ensure the program was doing all it could do to protect victims… until now.  Current SOS Diana Duran was thrilled when we presented this idea to her.  We have a ad-hoc committee developed out of the Public Policy Committee who is helping redevelop this program.  If any of you are interested in being part of this working group you are more than welcome, either email me or call me to get involved.  We have a list of issues we will be discussing with the SOS in a meeting soon.

Government Round Tables

We will be hitting the road again with this year’s Governmental Round Table Tour.  This year we are being aggressive and trying to reach 6 different communities.  The first leg will be Las Cruces and Silver City on August 29th and 30th respectively.  We will also be in Albuquerque, Grants, Santa Fe and Raton.  More details will be coming soon.

Health and Human Services Interim Committee

I am very excited to announce that on August 14th the NMCADV and our Farmington hosts Family Crisis Center and Navajo United Methodist Center will be presenting to the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.   This gives us another opportunity to stay in the spotlight with our state legislators.  Pam will be presenting on the a number of issues relating to the budget and the different types of approaches you all are taking on with survivors all over the state.  This is a great opportunity to have some great dialogue with our elected officials as to the barriers and successes you all are having in your communities.

2012 Peace Keeper Awards

This year’s Peace Keeper awards will be held in Las Cruces.  The Peace Keeper awards are held during October to commemorate the strides community leaders and businesses make to help our domestic violence programs around the state.  At last year’s ceremony we had a wonderful turnout and we thank the city of Santa Fe.  We had amazing award winners that truly captured the essence of peace and healing we were trying for.  If you want to thank a community member or a local business that has gone above and beyond to help your program succeed, we would love for you to nominate them for this year’s Peace Keeper Award.  Please email a nomination stating their name, how they have helped your program and why you would like to see them awarded as a 2012 NMCADV Peace Keeper.  Email nominations to me or Sherry Taylor as soon as possible.  We already have a couple of nominations, but would like to see many more.

Public Policy Committee Agenda – March 2012

The Final Stretch     2-13-2012

Thank you all for your phone calls, letters and connections you made with your Legislators!  Over the weekend the Senate had their chance to amend the State Budget – and in doing so, not only did the Senate Finance Committee protect our funding, BUT they added $200k more.  This is great news.  This brings the total funds increased this Session to a total of $1.28 million.  A break down is $1.0 million added to the General Fund to offset the DV Offender Fund money going from $1.7 million back down to $667k (or a loss of $1.023 million).  We got $200k also added to the General Fund from the Senate Amendment process, and $80k added to TANF Funds which we haven’t had access to in a couple of years.  I’ve attached our projected FY13 budget sheet so you can see how good of a position this Session put us.

Here are a number of highlights to point out while reading the spreadsheet. 

  • FY13 will be the first year we don’t get our budget cut since FY09.  That’s 5 years.
  • Actually we will be receiving a 3% budget increase this year.
  • We positioned ourselves for consistent future of funding by increasing our General Fund money from $8.0 million to $9.2 million or a 13% increase.  This is important because the most reliable stream of funding we can possibly have is from the State’s General Fund.

There are still a few steps of the process remaining before this is set in stone, but I am very confident this will stay as is.  Thank you again to all the members and friends who called, wrote, and advocated for us being taken as a priority for the state.  We took a big step forward this Session.

 

The Legislative Session will be closing at noon on Thursday, so things are about to get very busy.  The House will start hearing Senate Bills and the Senate will start hearing House bills.   There are still a number of bills we are tracking.  Last time I checked with Linda, there were 12 bills we were following that affected either victims of domestic violence or the agencies we represent.  If you would like more information on these bills, please let me know and I can get you a copy of positions we have taken on bills through the Public Policy Committee.

 

Update 2-7-2012

House Bill 2 passed out of House Appropriations yesterday.  Included was the $1.0 million to offset the Offender Treatment Funds we have been using also included was an additional $80,000 increase of TANF.  Now the Bill goes to the Senate and Senate Finance members will have to protect and possibly add some more.

Legislative Update 2-2-2012

Halftime

Budget

We are at the half way point at the 2012 Legislative Session.  16 days down, 14 to go.  As of today there is still no agreement on a budget for next year.  House Bill 2 was supposed to be passed by the House over to the Senate back on Monday, but there is still no deal in place.  The main reason for this is because there is a disagreement to how much money is really available.  The economists for the Governor say there is $250 million in extra money for next year.  Some in the Legislature believe this number is inflated because since these revenues were forecasted, oil and gas prices have gone down, which means less money is going to be available if that trend continues.  That being said, we were successful in getting $1.0 million restored to our domestic violence budget.  This keeps our budget flat, which is nice because we’ve been cut 3 years in a row.  Things can always change, but we are confident this will stay in the budget.  There has been no attempt to fix the budget disagreements this week which means we are really at halftime where both teams go into the locker room.  We will continue to try and get more money inserted once it gets to the Senate side.  We have had a couple of Senators say they will try their best to insert whatever they find available into our budget.

Policies

During a 30-day session the Legislature can only introduce bills relating to the budget unless the Governor issues a message declaring a bill to be important to New Mexico.  There were over 300 bills and memorials and constitutional amendments introduced by the first weekend of the session.  The tricky part was trying to navigate which bills are going to be ruled germane under the guidelines highlighted above.    Initially there were 30 bills that related or affected domestic violence in one way or another.  Most of these bills were ruled not in order, including our “Strangulation Bill” HB-145.  Now we are sifting through to see what survived and taking stances on those bills.  The Public Policy Committee has a protocol in place to determine the stance of for, against or natural.   The entire membership is always invited to these meetings.  Watch for the meeting invitation and call in.

Action Items in Place

Driver’s License Bill – The NMCADV agreed to support the issuance to driver’s licenses to victims of domestic violence without social security numbers.  The original bill to completely repeal the law that allows the issuance of driver’s licenses – HB 103 was substituted in House Labor and Human Resources with a committee substitute that still allows for the issuance of driver’s licenses, but requires more intense verification of documents and finger prints and increases penalties for fraud.  Last night this substitute went before the House Judiciary Committee.  After 5 hours of debate, the committee was split, so they pushed back voting of this until tomorrow.  *The Governor has said she won’t sign a “compromise bill” and the Senate vowed they won’t pass the original bill that fully repeals the 2003 law.  Unless someone gives in, it doesn’t look like anything will happen again.

Our 3 reasons for support of this substitute is

  1. Victims of domestic violence need to drive away and escape from violent situations legally and safely.
  2. Victims of domestic violence need financial independence, which includes driving safely and legally to and from work to support themselves and their family.
  3. This help victims navigate the Judicial System, and allows for the issuance of an Order of Protection Against the Abuser.

DV Conviction Expungement after 10 years – SB 2 is tricky and potentially harmful.  The overall intent of this bill is to expunge criminal records for those falsely accused, and victims of identity theft.  At the first hearing, women falsely accused of domestic violence stood up in support of this bill.  After rereading the language of this bill, it explicitly states that anyone who gets a DV misdemeanor conviction can get it taken off their record after 10 without incident.  Our original stance was that Law Enforcement Agencies, Judicial Officers and potential victims of domestic violence needed access to this information to be better informed of the abuser’s history.  Taking this away this information would be harmful.  *It needs to be noted that last year the Supreme Court rejected a similar proposal on the grounds that the public’s right to know outweighed any potential prejudice to a defendant.  We will be following this closely.

 

New Funding for VINE – SB 176 will give the NM Corrections Department more flexibility on using the Corrections Department Intensive Supervision Fund.  Although it does not say explicitly that this would fund the VINE program, the President of the Association of Counties assured me that this is the main intent of the bill.

 

Protection Order to be filed by Minors – HB 294 – This bill puts into statute the ability of a minor to file for an order of protection.  This will not only help those with violence in the household, but also for teen dating violence purposes.

 

Insurance Update

As we’ve been talking about, under the Governor’s Executive Order which goes into effect on July of 2012; all service contracts through the state who receive more the $250,000 will be required to offer health insurance to employees who have six or more employees who work an average of at least 20 hours per week over a six month period.   I know this clause is going to affect a couple of our member programs.  I think the confusing part for us is that the Executive Order clearly states insurance to be “offered” while the contract language is a bit more vague and hard to understand.  We are setting up a meeting with Jarred Rounsville, the CYFD Division Director to get a feedback on exactly what they want in place by July.  As soon as this meeting is set we will invite those who would like to attend.  For additional information on this subject, please don’t hesitate to call me.

New Mexico Coalition against Domestic Violence

Week Ending 1.28.12

By Linda Siegle

On Friday the House Appropriations Committee did their semi-final mock up of HB2.  We were successful in replacing the $1 million in offender treatment money with general fund money, but not successful in obtaining an additional $1 million.  Rep. King the chair of the subcommittee for CYFD indicated that the there was great resistance to increasing non big ticket items because the senate finance chair does not believe there is sufficient revenue.  HB2 will go over to the Senate next week and we will try for an amendment in Senate Finance despite the reluctance for additional funding.  The majority of the $200 million appropriated in HB2 went to Medicaid, employee retirement, and public and higher education.  HB2 will be voted out of House Appropriation on Monday.  click here for more Domestic Violence 1 28 12

 Weekly Update 1.21.12

By Linda Siegle

 Welcome to the first report of the 2012 Legislative Session.  Over 300 bills, memorials and constitutional amendments have been introduced in this 30-day session which by law is for the purpose of developing a state budget.  Governor Martinez is following in the footsteps of Governor Richardson in authorizing a large number of non-fiscal bills to be discussed in this short session.  She has issued 80 “messages” (documents authorizing bills to be discussed) for this session.  Many bills which have already been introduced DO NOT have a governor “message” so they may NOT be ruled germane.  It is the responsibility of the House and Senate Rules Committees to determine if a bill has “message” or if it is on a similar topic to one of the governor’s messages.  If a bill does not have a “message” or is not of a messaged topic, it will be ruled NOT germane and will not be discussed.

 

BUDGET:  One week ago all parties (governor and legislators) agreed that the State had a surplus of over $250 million.  Unfortunately one of the State’s primary revenue generators suddenly began to dramatically decline.  Some of the budget surplus has been based upon natural gas remaining around $5.70 per BTU – now the price is down to less than $3.00 per BTU.  For every $ .10 increase in natural gas prices the State receives between $10 and $12 million of revenue.   Senator John Arthur Smith, chair of Senate Finance, estimates we may only have $187 million or less of new revenue.  We know that Medicaid has requested $50 million to address increasing client load.  State and school employees anticipate that the 1.75% of their salaries going to retirement will be replaced by state dollars – approximately $47 million.  The Legislature and the Governor have various education funding ideas which may be curtailed if revenue is not available.  The House and Senate Finance Committees will be meeting this week to determine just how much money may be available.  Stay tuned.

 

HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE:  According to federal law each state must have a health insurance exchange up and running by January 2014.  You may recall in last year’s legislative session several bills were introduced addressing this issue.  Sen. Feldman and Sen. Munoz combined their bills resulting in passage by both chambers.  The combined bill was vetoed by the governor.  The governor’s office did apply for federal exchange money last year and received $34 million to create an exchange and to fund the IT system.  In the grant application, they indicated that the exchange would be housed in the existing Health Insurance Alliance.  Many legislators do not like this solution hence the bills introduced.  It is unlikely that these bills will be ruled germane. This bill is important to DV providers because beginning Jan. 1, 2014 you will be REQUIRED to provide insurance for your employees (unless the Supreme Ct. overrules this in June of 2012).