Representatives Announce Introduction of H.R. 4705, the Safe at Home Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released a statement today after she and Rep. Dean Phillips (DFL-Minn.), alongside Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, announced bipartisan legislation to protect victims of stalking and domestic violence. H.R. 4705, the Safe at Home Act, will allow federal agencies to accept alternate addresses authorized by state law to protect the identity of those who fear for their safety. Minnesota and Missouri are two of 38 states with an existing ACP.
“I’m proud to introduce the Safe At Home Act with the support of Minnesota Secretary of State Simon and colleagues from both sides of the aisle,” Rep. Betty McCollum said. “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we must take this time to do all we can to protect victims of stalking and domestic violence. This legislation is a common sense step that the federal government can take to help ensure the privacy of those who fear for their safety. I encourage my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
“For over a decade, Missouri has been running a successful Address Confidentiality Program so that victims of domestic and sexual violence are better protected, Rep. Vicky Hartzler said. “I am honored to have worked with Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and my colleagues to create the Safe at Home Act. The bill will harmonize federal regulations with these great statewide programs. I urge my colleagues to move this measure forward so we can support our great states in their effort to protect the most vulnerable.”
“It is an honor to work with Representative McCollum, Secretary of State Simon, and my Democratic and Republican colleagues on the Safe At Home Act,” Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I have heard directly from survivors of domestic violence and assault that our government must do more to protect their well-being. Minnesota’s Safe at Home program has led the way to keep survivors safe and confidential. It’s time to ensure the federal government complies with these state programs that protect our community.”
“Your personal information belongs to you, not the government. Victims of domestic violence deserve to have their sensitive information protected,” said Rep. Jason Smith. “Under Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s leadership, Missouri has pioneered programs to defend victims’ privacy by allowing them to provide alternative addresses on official state documents. I’m proud to have worked with Secretary Ashcroft, and my colleagues in Congress, on this legislation to guarantee these state programs are accepted at the federal level to safeguard the privacy of Missourians and their families.”
“Address confidentiality programs provide a service that saves lives,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said. “We have seen this in Minnesota’s Safe at Home program, and we are calling on Congress to pass this legislation to bring the assurance of security to victims in their interactions with federal government.”
“Our Safe at Home program has helped ensure the safety of more than 5,000 Missourians,” Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said. “I’m proud to have helped craft this federal legislation that will further protect Americans who fear for their safety. It makes sense to offer the same protections we do in the states at the federal level, and I appreciate the work of our Representatives bringing this important legislation to the House floor. This bill helps protect victims and doesn’t cost a dime; this is good government.”
- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Too many Americans fear for their safety due to stalking or domestic violence. To help address this problem, Minnesota, Missouri, and 36 other states have enacted Address Confidentiality Programs (ACP) that allow people to obtain and use an alternative mailing address and shield their physical address from the public eye.
- However, federal agencies are currently not required to comply with state ACPs, creating a risk for survivors who are forced to disclose their physical address to federal agencies and courts. Participants around the country have had various federal agencies challenge the use of a substitute address for services such as receiving Social Security benefits, completing employment and tax forms, enrolling their child in school programs, and even filling prescriptions.
- The Safe at Home Act will help overcome many of these security challenges by bringing the federal government into alignment with state laws by allowing domestic violence victims to use an alternative address for residential requirements, such as court-approved P.O. Box numbers. This will strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence nationwide.
- The full text of the legislation can be found here. A video recording of the press conference can be found here.
Co-sponsors of the Safe at Home Act: Betty McCollum (MN-04); Dean Phillips (MN-03); Vicky Hartzler (MO-04); Jason Smith (MO-08); Angie Craig (MN-02); Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL); Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12); Debbie Dingell (MI-12); Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02); Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01); Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02); Brendan Boyle (PA-02).
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