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Secretary Simon’s Initiative to Strengthen Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence Passes Minnesota Legislature

May 18, 2015

“Having just met with some of the local agencies in Greater Minnesota who work with our Safe at Home program, I can tell you that passing this bill is a critical step to ensuring protection for victims of domestic violence and other Minnesotans who fear for their safety."

SAINT PAUL — Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon hailed the passage today of legislation that strengthens the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home address confidentiality program as a “critical step to ensuring protection for victims of domestic violence and other Minnesotans who fear for their safety.” The Safe at Home bill was one of Secretary Simon’s top legislative priorities and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.

The Safe at Home bill (HF 654/SF 619), authored by Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River) and Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights) and included in the Public Safety Omnibus Bill, provides a framework for courts to use when determining whether or not to order a Safe at Home participant to disclose their physical address.

“Having just met with some of the local agencies in Greater Minnesota who work with our Safe at Home program, I can tell you that passing this bill is a critical step to ensuring protection for victims of domestic violence and other Minnesotans who fear for their safety,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon. “The Safe at Home program has assisted thousands of Minnesotans since its inception. This bill will help provide uniformity for the courts across the state and give peace of mind to current and future participants who rely on this life-saving service.”

Safe at Home is an address confidentiality program designed to assist Minnesotans who wish to keep the location of their physical residence private for personal safety reasons, often because they are victims of domestic violence and stalking. It is administered by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office and has enrolled over 5,000 people since its creation.

Participants enrolled in the Safe at Home program use a post office box as their legal address for all purposes. When their physical address is needed for an investigation, prosecution, or litigation, a court may order the disclosure of that address. However, in the past there has been a wide spectrum of standards applied when courts ordered the disclosure of a participant’s address.

This bill provides a framework for courts to use when determining whether or not to order a participant to disclose their physical address, and ensures uniformity across the state. Under the legislation a court must consider:

  • Whether the disclosure is needed;
  • If there is another practicable way to obtain the information needed; and
  • Whether disclosure places the safety of the program participant at risk.

The bill also requires that the release of this information be limited to ensure that the disclosure of the physical address is no wider than necessary for the purpose of the court order.

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Contact: Ryan Furlong, (651) 297-8919, ryan.furlong@state.mn.us

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