On February 22nd, SARC Staff will be taking a road trip to the Oregon State Capitol in Salem for Lobby Day, our chance to make our voices heard in the 2017 Oregon State Legislative Sessions. Throughout the day, staff and volunteers will attend meetings with state representatives and their aides to advocate for legislation that directly impacts our work as an agency to address sexual violence in our communities. This year, the The Oregon Alliance to End Violence Against Women has outlined three legislative priorities: housing protection, funding for emergency resources, and prevention education.
Fighting against a $1.4 billion deficit in Oregon is not easy, but SARC believes these causes need to be prioritized by our local and state governments. The need for stable housing is one of the biggest hurdles survivors face. Pushing for just eviction cause laws and demanding rent stabilization is one way to address the vulnerable situations survivors often find themselves in, without putting a huge dent in the state budget. So often, survivors are left in unstable or unsafe living situations because they have no other options. Requiring just eviction cause from landlords and implementing rent stabilization laws gives people a choice, an opportunity for a life on their own terms. These are relatively simple measures that can easily save lives.
Funding levels for emergency services, such as SARC’s 24-hour crisis line, confidential domestic violence shelter networks, and other essential services, are currently less than half of what is considered the minimum needed to provide safe and consistent access. SARC is pushing for a $2 million increase to the Department of Justice budget for Oregon domestic and sexual violence services has the potential to arm every agency doing this work with tens of thousands more dollars bringing us closer to the minimum needed address need. Dollars that are put to use funding programs such as case management, 24-hour advocate response, 24-hour crisis line support, safe shelter, and so much more. With the reliability of federal funding streams currently in question, the continued support of our state government is paramount in ensuring these services are protected and preserved for Oregonians.
The SARC (Commercially Sexually Exploited Children) CSEC Team recently reviewed and selected a few of the 13 trafficking related bills to focus on this legislative session. They include SB 249, which would implement procedures for a victim of sex trafficking to file a motion to clear a judgement of a conviction for prostitution at or around the time the offense took place. This bill could potentially be a huge stride towards the decriminalization of CSEC victims within the legal system. In addition to this bill, the passage of SB 542 would add the crime of patronizing a trafficked minor to be included under the definitions of a sex crime and child abuse. These are just two of several pieces of legislation that SARC’s CSEC team feel are important to address this session. We encourage you to read these additional bills, also related to Human Trafficking: HB 2141 and HB 2401.
While we are in Salem with hundreds of other agencies and organizations, we need your help back home. Your phones calls matter. Your letters matter. Your voice matters. Here’s a resource to look up your district’s representatives. Call them. Write them. Print this newsletter, print these article links, put a stamp on them, and mail them.
Let your representatives know what is important to you. Remind them that their responsibility is to keep Oregonians safe, that they were elected to heed the voice of the people.
© Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM, flckr