There are few things more terrifying than setting out to completely start a new life, yet far too many women have to take that step in order to keep themselves and their children safe. It is one of my top priorities as your state senator to make sure these women are empowered and not hindered by bureaucracy and red tape.
Often the victims of domestic violence must flee quickly and do not have time to gather the documents that will be necessary to start their new lives, secure a place to live, or find a job. They are often locked out of their former home and, unfortunately, as I experienced myself, their possessions and documents, such as a birth certificate, can be destroyed or lost.
That was the motivation behind my introduction of Senate Bill 198, which would waive any and all fees to obtain a copy of a person’s birth certificate if that person is a victim of domestic violence or abuse.
If a person loses everything during these kinds of transitions, a birth certificate is the starting point for starting over. It takes a birth certificate to get a new Social Security card, driver’s license or other identification. While the fee to get a new birth certificate is not expensive ($15), it is an added burden for someone under duress who may not have a single dollar to their name. It actually only costs the state the expense of paper and ink, so I feel it is a cost we can afford to cut for those who need to achieve a sense of safety and get back on their feet.
Senate Bill 198 had several amendments added through the legislative process and ultimately did not make it across the finish line. The original language, however, was added to Senate Bill 28, which modifies several provisions relating to access to certain records. Senate Bill 28 was truly agreed to and finally passed and has been signed by the Governor.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.