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Emergency legislation proposed to save domestic violence funds

Posted: August 11, 2009 4:05 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2009 6:40 p.m.
 
A press conference led by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 11 a.m. in front of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriffs' Station, 23740 Magic Mountain Parkway in Santa Clarita, to discuss emergency legislation to save domestic violence center program funds in California.

Smyth has signed on as co-author of legislation that will restore funding for domestic violence programs. The legislation, by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), will shift $16.3 million from the Victims' Compensation Fund to the Department of Public Health's Domestic Violence Program. The Victims' Compensation Fund currently has a balance of $136.2 million.

"It's important that we continue to fund domestic violence programs because they provide critical services to victims of domestic abuse, and often is the only thing keeping them from returning to their abuser," Smyth said in a statement. "The program has proven successful, and this legislation will ensure that 94 domestic violence shelters in California, including several in my district, are able to remain open."

The Santa Clarita Valley has seen three domestic violence deaths this last year. The most recent, last Sunday, was the murder of an 18-year old woman in her bed inside the Canyon Country mobile home she shares with her parents. Her boyfriend has been arrested for the crime.

The Legislature had allocated $16.3 million for domestic violence programs in California, but all were eliminated completely by the Governor as one of his line-item vetoes.

"Eliminating these programs is shortsighted because it ultimately results in additional health care and law enforcement costs to the state," Smyth said. "This proposed legislation is a creative solution that requires no new money, yet allows services to still be provided to those who need them most."

The domestic violence program funds allow local agencies to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and legal advocacy, as well as assistance with restraining orders, counseling and other vital support services.

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