House Republicans Propose Reforms, Announce $10.6 Million in New Funding for Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Programs

HouseGOP2014 General Assembly Session, Issues, Public Safety

House Republicans called for major reforms Thursday to how Virginia funds its domestic and sexual violence intervention, prevention and counseling services and introduced House Bill 1 at a press conference in Richmond. Legislators also announced that the House Budget proposal will include $10.6 million in new funding for domestic and sexual violence treatment and crisis prevention centers. Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) will serve as Chief Patron and Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover) will be the Chief Co-Patron for House Bill 1.

House Bill 1 is phase one of a reform process that will streamline existing and new funding for intervention, prevention and counseling services. This legislation dedicates a funding stream for Sexual & Domestic Violence Agencies in order to increase access to the important treatment and crisis services they provide.

“We continue to see a troubling trend with sexual and domestic violence in Virginia,” said Delegate Comstock. “While we have reduced the number of violent crimes in the Commonwealth, domestic and sexual violence crimes continue to rise. Between 2006 and 2010, overall homicides in Virginia declined by 8% while intimate partner homicides increased by 65%. At any given time, there are approximately 14,000 active protective orders on file in Virginia. These numbers show a pressing need for reforms that improve access to critical intervention and prevention services. House Bill 1 is designed to focus more resources and attention directly to the victims.”

Legislators also announced that the House Budget proposal would include $10.6 million in new funding in 2015 for Virginia’s domestic and sexual violence treatment and crisis prevention centers. The budget amendment for this funding was introduced by Delegate Chris Peace.

“With these reforms and dedicated revenues, Virginia’s sexual violence prevention organizations will be able to provide their services in a more efficient and effective way,” said Delegate Peace, a former board member of a local domestic violence task force “In addition, I am pleased to announce that the House budget proposal will include $10.6 million in new funding for these critical programs. This new, desperately-needed funding will help fill a critical service shortfall.”

Speaking about House Bill 1, Peace added: “The current funding structure is burdensome on local service providers who offer 24-hour hotline and shelter support to victims.  The current system does not optimize the available resources which could be used to help people in crisis. There is a better way.  We are proposing a solution to this problem that prioritizes the needs of victims, allows money to be directed to specific service gaps and gives localities greater flexibility in addressing this important issue. I hope all of my colleagues in the House and Senate will join us in taking a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault by supporting this bill.”

“These reforms and new dedicated revenues will result in increased efficiency, reduced duplication and relief of administrative burdens at the state and community agency levels,” said Kristi VanAudenhove, Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance. “House Republicans have come together to make streamlining funding for Sexual and Domestic Violence Services their ‘No. 1’ issue for the this General Assembly session, and we’ll be excited to see General Assembly members of both parties and in both the House and Senate join them in making this a priority.”