2021 was a landmark year in Louisiana legislation passed to enhance supportive measures for sexual trauma survivors and improve systems response across our state. We are so grateful to our legislative champions who sponsored bills this year and prioritized sexual trauma survivors.
HB 375/ACT 1 by Representative Aimee Freeman
This bill was STAR’s signature piece of legislation for the 2021 session. In 2015 a bill was passed that allowed early lease termination for survivors of domestic abuse, but the law did not extend to survivors of sexual assault that were not in intimate relationships. Since that time, STAR has attempted to bring a bill for sexual assault survivors to be able to terminate their residential leases early without success. In 2020, Representative Freeman introduced the early lease termination bill, but when things shut down because of Covid-19 we decided to pull the bill and work with stakeholders in the interim to remove any of their opposition. Finally, with the support of the Apartment Association, LA Fair Housing Action Center, Louisiana Survivors for Reform, Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and students from Tigers Against Sexual Assault, we were able to pass the bill unanimously in both the house and senate with 31 co-authors. Effective June 1, 2021, sexual assault survivors can terminate their residential lease agreements early if they meet certain criteria. Survivors can contact STAR legal for free consultations.
HB 12/ACT 3 by Representative Malinda White
This bill allows individuals to donate a portion or all of their Louisiana State Income Tax return to STAR. This makes it easier for people in Louisiana to make tax-deductible donations to STAR.
HB 234/ ACT 188 by Representative Barbara Carpenter
This bill adds a member to the Louisiana Sexual Assault Oversight Commission designated by STAR, which allows us to continue providing our expertise and insight into policies that affect sexual assault survivors.
HB 492/ACT 322 by Representative Jason Hughes
This bill eliminates the prescriptive period (statute of limitations) to bring a civil claim against perpetrators for sexual abuse of children. It also allows a “look back” period to revive claims that previously prescribed.
SB 211/ACT 353 by Senator Katrina Jackson
This bill requires in-service training for teachers and other school personnel on adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, which is a training STAR provides to the community.
HB 55/ACT 394 by Representative Aimee Freeman
This bill allows survivors to use written affirmations instead of affidavits when filing petitions for protective orders. This helps eliminate bureaucracy and potential costs for survivors when attempting to obtain protection from abuse.
HB 379/ACT 411 by Representative Ed Larvadain III
This bill allows survivors to recover punitive damages if they are sexually assaulted in the workplace. These types of damages are not available in all types of civil claims because they are meant to punish and deter conduct.
HB 409/SB 230/ACT 439 by Representative Aimee Freeman and Senator Beth Mizell, respectively
These bills revise the Campus Accountability and Safety Act to place more protections for students on college campuses and to close loopholes in existing law for when students accused of committing sexual assault try to transfer schools to avoid disciplinary proceedings. The bill also changes the classification of offenses from “sexually oriented offenses” to “power-based abuse.” Finally, the law addresses penalties for when university officials fail to report incidents of power-based abuse.
SB 232/ACT 441 by Senator Barrow
This bill creates a “power-based violence” review panel that will evaluate policies and practices of institutions of public postsecondary education regarding the reporting, investigating, and adjudicating of power-based violence offenses against students. A STAR staff member will serve on this review panel.
We are so proud of our STAR staff who testified at the State Capitol this year to bring much needed awareness of these issues to our lawmakers, specifically Morgan Lamandre, Airzola Cleaves, and Alexis Canfield. Consider donating to STAR to help support our legal program in their statewide advocacy work.