ALBANY, N.Y. For those in domestic violence situations, Governor Hochul recently signed five new laws to help them break away from their abuser.
“Together this package of bills really allows for survivors to do just that, to be able to pursue options that really make sense for them to be able to find the pathway to safety,” said Jimmy Meaghar, Policy Director at Safe Horizon.
The first allows victims of sexual violence to apply to the board of elections to have their voter registration information sealed from the public.
Another bill allows victims to get out of paying joint utility bills if they flee their homes.
“This is an issue that comes up with many of our survivors that they were on the same utility bill as the person who is causing them harm, their abuser,” stated Meaghar. “I use these terms interchangeably. This really allows survivors to opt-out of that contract without penalty.”
When it comes to health insurance companies, they will now be required to provide victims with alternatives to contact information so they can access their claims and benefits.
Another new law will now make criminal and family court judges ask if there are guns in the home in domestic violence cases. And lastly, the seizure of firearms will be allowed to when there is an order of protection.
“When a judge has already determined that continued possession remains a danger. And this will apply when a defendant willfully disobeys a previous order to surrender a firearm,” explained Governor Kathy Hochul.
While some of these laws take effect immediately, others will go into effect early next year.