This past spring was a busy time at our state’s capital. In Columbus, my colleagues and I were busy working on legislation to aid Ohioans and enhance the quality of life for individuals throughout our state. One piece of legislation that I was proud to co-sponsor and support was House Bill 359, which establishes an Address Confidentiality Program for certain victims of crimes. It was important to me that we pass this legislation to protect those who have suffered.


HB 359 is meant to help victims of menacing by stalking, domestic violence, rape, sexual battery, and human trafficking by assigning them an Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) number. This number is then assigned to a P.O. Box at the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, to be used for all Ohio governmental records. By initiating this program, we are ensuring that these victims can protect themselves by keeping information shielded from their abuser. This program allows victims to safely register to vote, register a vehicle, and complete many governmental forms without an abuser being able to locate their home address through public records. Victims participating in the program will also be able to transfer their wireless service, if the victim is not the account holder for their phone.


Additionally, HB 359 protects its participants by only allowing certain governmental agencies to know their home address. These instances include voter eligibility verification by their county board of elections, the Secretary of State’s office to administer the program, and law enforcement officials for legal purposes or to provide emergency protection for threats to the victim’s safety. The program allows participants to give, in lieu of a home address, their assigned Secretary of State address to their employer, school, or institution of higher education.


Initially, I was surprised we did not have a program to protect these victims. As a state representative, protecting Ohioans that have been abused is a top priority.


With the signing of House Bill 359, our state joined 36 other states that have an address confidentiality program.  I’m pleased that the General Assembly and Governor Kasich took action on this issue, and it is my hope that victims throughout Ohio can live a more peaceful life.


 

 
 
 
  
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