The Partnership develops its annual policy priorities through discussions with its membership. Our priorities include both legislative changes and systems change efforts to strengthen responses to domestic violence, protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. In addition to our identified priorities, the Partnership actively supports and opposes many bills each year. Click here for information about all of the bills the Partnership is tracking.
Systems Change Priorities
Federal Policy Priorities
- Safeguard state funding for local domestic violence shelters - State funding is an essential component of shelter budgets, and must be sustained so that shelters can meet their communities’ needs for victim services. The Partnership will continue its advocacy to ensure that the state budget maintains critically needed funding for domestic violence shelters.
- Ensure state and federal funding proposals support victim services - Recognizing the critical need for victim services funding, the Partnership will continue to engage on all funding proposals to ensure that they address the needs of programs. In addition to shelter funding through the state General Fund, the Partnership will advocate for sustained federal funding and will provide input to all funding bills related to victim services.
For 2015 the Members have voted on four priorities: a study bill on Failure to Protect; systems change work around human trafficking; systems change work around restraining orders and law enforcement; and legislature around the issue of diversion. As we move forward we will be working with our members, stakeholders, and partners to create the best strategies to accomplish each priority.
In 2014, both of our policy priorities were signed into law! We are very grateful to the authors, co-sponsors, and supporters for helping to get these important changes enacted. The Partnership’s 2014 priority bills were:
- AB 1547 (Gomez): Extend the sunset date for the Domestic Violence Advisory Council (DVAC). The Domestic Violence Advisory Council has an important role in ensuring that the voices of domestic violence experts from across the state are heard in the administration of the Comprehensive Statewide Domestic Violence Program, which provides funding for domestic violence shelters and programs across California. Currently DVAC is set to sunset on January 1, 2015 and this date must be extended to continue DVAC’s important advisory role. AB 1547 was signed by the Governor!
AB 2089 (Quirk): Amend the Family Code Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) to strengthen and clarify its provisions.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) governs the issuance and enforcement of domestic violence restraining orders in California. Ambiguities in the DVPA have led to inconsistent interpretations among courts. In 2014 the Partnership will work on legislation to address these ambiguities and strengthen and clarify the DVPA’s provisions to ensure this important Act appropriately responds to the needs of survivors today. AB 2089 was signed by the Governor!
In 2013, all of the Partnership’s priority bills were signed into law! We are very grateful to the authors, co-sponsors, and supporters for helping to get these important changes enacted. The Partnership’s 2013 priority bills were:
- AB 139 (Holden): Improves the collection and distribution of Domestic Violence Probationer Fees. Courts and counties have been inconsistent in their collection and distribution of fees charged to offenders convicted of domestic violence. As these fees ultimately go to local domestic violence shelters, these inconsistencies have led to a significant reduction in available funding for domestic violence victims, and reduced accountability for individuals convicted of a domestic violence crime.
- AB 16 (Perez): Closes the loophole in the felony domestic violence statute. California’s felony domestic violence statute currently does not include dating partners or fiancés, leaving a significant number of victims without protection through this statute. AB 16 (Perez) closes this loophole, ensuring all victims are protected and bringing the included relationships in line with the misdemeanor statute.
- SB 612 (Leno): Expands permitted documentation for survivor’s early lease termination. Current law requires victims to provide a police report or restraining order as valid documentation. SB 612 expands the permitted documentation to include documentation from a health practitioner, domestic violence counselor, sexual assault counselor, or a human trafficking caseworker. SB 612 also adds human trafficking victims to the eligibility for this protection.
- SB 400 (Jackson): Protects the employment rights of victims. SB 400 protects survivors from termination or discrimination because of their known status as a survivor and requires employers to provide survivors with reasonable safety accommodations when requested.
Systems Change Priorities
In 2014 the Partnership will use non-legislative means to focus on issues surrounding restraining order enforcement. For many survivors, a restraining order is an essential piece of his or her overall safety plan, and enforcement of these orders is critical. The Partnership will work with its member programs and other stakeholders to determine how enforcement can be strengthened in communities across California.
Additional systems change issue areas for the Partnership include:
- Address language and court access issues for survivors - The court system plays a critical role in keeping survivors safe, and the court budget cuts and reductions in services and hours have made access to the system increasingly difficult. Additionally, many survivors have limited English proficiency. The lack of interpretation when interacting with law enforcement and throughout court proceedings, including custody and divorce cases, puts survivors’ safety at risk. The Partnership will monitor and respond to issues of language and court access that impact survivors. The Partnership monitors and responds to issues of language and court access that impact survivors.
- Increase safety for immigrant survivors of domestic violence - The Partnership recognizes the overwhelming number of survivors who are faced with immigration issues, and will continue to take action on the connections between immigration and domestic violence. The Partnership works to address the unique needs of these survivors and the ways in which existing systems hinder the safety, needs, and autonomy of survivors who are immigrants by facilitating dialogue, engaging in research, and creating and distributing educational resources for both advocates and immigrant survivors in our communities.
- Improve local level dating abuse policies and practices within school districts - Preventing adolescent dating abuse is an important strategy for supporting California’s youth and preventing future adult domestic violence. This year the Partnership will focus on strengthening local capacity and promoting local school policies and institutional practices to promote healthy relationships and prevent adolescent dating abuse.
- Strengthen accountability of California Batterer Intervention Programs - Batterer Intervention Programs are an important piece of our systems’ response to domestic violence, and are critical to holding perpetrators accountable. However, there is inconsistent oversight and accountability for these programs. The Partnership will work to address these issues to strengthen accountability.
Federal Policy Priorities
The Partnership works closely with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) on federal advocacy efforts, including advocating for sustained federal funding for domestic violence programs. Every year, representatives from the Partnership travel to Washington, DC to ensure that the needs of programs and victims are heard in Congress. You can visit NNEDV’s website for more information about federal policies that impact survivors.
Look up your elected officials, find out about bills related to domestic violence, take action on current legislative issues.
Engaging all of our members in advocacy efforts is essential to our success. The decisions made in Sacramento and Washington DC directly impact programs and victims, and legislators need to hear from you. The following tools and resources will help you effectively engage in policy efforts.
- Interested in doing more? Find out about our Public Policy and Research Committees.
- Find additional policy information and Partnership publications.
- Know the rules for non-profits engaging in advocacy work. The Alliance for Justice has helpful information.
- Understand the legislative process in Sacramento and Washington, DC.