U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at Missouri House Communications}

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, and Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, have introduced a bipartisan measure that would strengthen privacy protections for domestic violence victims. The bill would allow those participating in state Address Confidentiality Programs to use their confidential substitute address when creating new public records at the federal level, preventing the disclosure of their actual physical address.

Federal law is vague about whether federal agencies and courts are required to recognize state-created substitute addresses. The bill would require federal agencies and courts to accept participants’ confidential address as the actual physical address when creating a new public record. The bill would also allow participants to provide their substitute address to any federal agency without being charged with the crime of giving a false statement or information.

“Victims of abuse and domestic violence deserve to feel safe and protected in their own homes,” Blunt said. “Missouri, along with 35 other states, has taken an important step by implementing Address Confidentiality Programs to prevent abusers from locating their victims. This bill will ensure victims have the same privacy protections whether they’re applying for a passport or a local library card.”

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R)

Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is familiar with the issue. His office runs a state program that allows domestic violence victims to use an alternative address. Earlier this summer, he said there must be legislation at the state and federal levels to further protect those who have been victimized by their attackers. Ashcroft has been lobbying for changes that are covered in the legislation sponsored by Blunt.

“It just helps to separate the abusers from the individuals they have been victimizing and give those individuals and their families breathing space, peace of mind and allow them to get back up on their feet,” says Ashcroft.

Ashcroft tells Missourinet the federal legislation would not require the creation of a new program and would not cost the government anything.

The SAFE at Home Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri. U.S. Representative Jason Smith, R-MO, has introduced companion legislation in the House.