House passes Borowski bill to assist victims of domestic violence

H.B. 544 would waive fees to replace critical state documents

HARRISBURG, June 6 – Victims of domestic violence are on their way toward receiving much-needed support in rebuilding their lives after the House today passed legislation authored by state Rep. Lisa Borowski, D-Delaware.

Borowski said her legislation (H.B. 544) would waive fees associated with replacing critical state documents for victims of domestic violence and abuse who have been deprived of these documents by their abusers. One of the ways an abuser will try to exert control is by withholding or destroying vital documents – such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, vehicle titles and vehicle registrations – to isolate their target and make it more difficult for them to escape the situation, according to Borowski.

“Abuse is about power and control,” said Borowski. “This straightforward waiver program can be the lifeline that victims of abuse need to reclaim their lives.” 

Under the legislation, PennDOT and the PA Department of Health would waive the fees associated with providing duplicates of certain state-issued vital documents for victims and their dependent children. The covered state documents would include certificate of title, photo ID, non-commercial driver’s license, camera card, a vehicle registration and birth certificates.

Borowski said domestic violence comprises a range of behaviors beyond physical and emotional abuse. Abusers often use violence, intimidation, degradation and isolation to deprive victims of their rights to physical security, dignity and respect.

“It is a fact that many victims escape their abuser and living situation with only the clothes they have on their back. Thinking about grabbing their car title or birth certificate is often the last thing on their mind as they escape,” said Borowski. “This bill takes a small step to help these victims get the footing they need to start over. I commend my colleagues for doing the right thing and hope the Senate soon follows.”