The Kentucky Senate voted Wednesday to broaden an address confidentiality program intended to protect domestic violence victims from their abusers.
The measure would build on a limited, little-used program that now can shield victims’ home addresses from voter rolls. If the bill becomes law, the program would be expanded to mask their addresses on other publicly available government records.
The bill won Senate passage on a 36-0 vote, sending it to the House.
Republican Sen. Julie Raque Adams, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the proposal would offer protections for victims of domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking.
“Motivated abusers and stalkers can easily access public government records, either directly or through various websites, often without charge, to find victims’ new addresses and contact information,” she said.
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The bill would bring Kentucky’s efforts in line with 38 other states that offer comprehensive programs to mask the home addresses of domestic abuse victims on public records. The bill’s supporters have noted that Kentucky is plagued by one of the nation’s highest rates of domestic violence.
The Secretary of State’s office runs Kentucky’s address confidentiality program related to voter rolls and it would administer the expanded program.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams praised the Senate vote to expand the program, saying the state is “one step closer to ensuring that survivors of domestic violence can get the protection they deserve.” In his statement from him, Adams urged the House to pass the measure.
Senate Bill 79 is intended to expand the program’s accessibility.
Currently, victims obtaining court-issued protective orders can have their addresses hidden when registering to vote. However, many victims don’t get those orders. The bill would allow victims who sign a sworn statement to have their addresses shielded from the broader list of records.
During a recent legislative committee hearing on the bill, the secretary of state said the program—created a decade ago—had fewer than 50 people participating.