A bill aimed at helping victims of domestic violence has been approved by the Missouri House of Representatives and is moving on to the Senate.
House Bill 1135 allows victims of domestic violence who are receiving services from an agency accredited with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to be eligible to receive a one-time fee waiver for obtaining a copy of a birth certificate. The bill is intended to help victims who are often forced to leave dangerous situations without important documents.
According to State Rep. Don Mayhew, supporters say individuals who leave a home where abuse occurs often leave behind birth certificates as well as other documents and identification. When they attempt to obtain new forms of identification such as a drivers license or try and open a bank account, it is difficult to do without a birth certificate. The fee can be a burden to a victim who is also facing numerous other expenses while trying to rebuild their life.
The sponsor of the bill, State Rep. Chris Dinkins, said the victims are vulnerable and need access to birth certificates in order to participate in legitimate activities leading to independence and self-sufficiency. Abusers often take control of their vital records as a way to keep them from leaving.
The bill also provides a free birth certificate without the consent of a signature of a parent or guardian, Mayhew said.