HB 108

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RAPE CRISIS CENTERS  To add a representative of eligible rape crisis programs as a member of the State Victims Assistance Advisory Council, to require each person who registers as a sex offender to pay a one-hundred-dollar fee, to require the deposit of the fee into the Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund administered by the Attorney General, and to fund rape crisis centers out of the Fund.
This morning, June 19, while the news media was reporting about tennis star Serena Williams comments about rape and apology, survivors, law enforcement and volunteer advocates across Ohio provided testimony with Representative Baker and OAESV to the Ohio Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Sub. HB 108. If this bill is passed by the Senate by the end of this month it would appropriate funding for the first time in Ohio’s history to ensure that survivors of sexual violence in Ohio have more services and supports available at rape crisis centers.
Serena’s comment reflects a larger societal attitude about rape. Blaming victims and calling victim credibility into question will never end sexual violence. We need to stop shifting the blame onto victims, and instead acknowledge that perpetrators are the ones responsible. Instead, believe survivors. Survivors need support from their family, friends and community. More services, prevention education and community awareness is needed to provide a supportive societal response to survivors. 

Serena’s comment is a call to action to take a stand against sexual violence. Together, we can prevent these crimes and also show survivors the compassion, support and empathy they deserve.  

Here’s what you can do to take action this week: 

Call the following Representatives and Senators about including the $2 MIL appropriation for rape crisis centers in the state budget:  

  • Representative Amstutz, (614) 466-1474
  • Representative McClain, (614) 644-6265
  • Representative Sykes, (614) 466-3100
  • Senator Oelslager, (614) 466-0626
  • Senator Sawyer, (614) 466-7041
  • Senator Coley, (614) 466-8072 
Also, please contact your local Senator, Senate President Faber and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee for swift passage of this bill.  

Tell them how important rape crisis services are in your community and ask them for their support to all survivors across Ohio.  

Thanks for your continued advocacy! 
Rep. Nan A. Baker District 16

Rep. Nan A. Baker District 16

Bill sponsor Rep. Nan Baker  said the proposal would raise funds for rape crisis centers by imposing a $100 fee – payable at the time of registration – on convicted sex offenders. The funds, she noted, would help generate an estimated $100,000 to $200,000 per year, and would provide a needed boost for centers that assist those who are dealing with rape.

Rep. Baker added that the bill would also ensure that a representative of rape crisis centers have a seat on a state victim assistance advisory committee.

She said almost a dozen rape crisis centers have closed in recent years due to a lack of resources.

Rep. Hayes noted that a similar bill was considered last session, and raised concerns about what would happen if a sex offender was unable to pay.

Rep. Kirk Shuring (R) District 48

Rep. Kirk Shuring (R) District 48

Co-sponsor Rep. Kirk Schuring said last year-s version collected funds via increased court costs, not through sex offenders. He said the Ohio Judicial Conference had concerns with raising court costs to cover the fee.

Mr. Schuring noted that the attorney general could pursue civil actions against offenders who are unable to pay, but noted that defendants are often able to come up with money for their defense when push comes to shove. “They’ll figure out a way to come up with the money,” he said.

Rep. Letson questioned whether the $100 fee would be retrospective. Mr. Schuring said it would only apply to future convictions, and offered to adjust the bill if there was a sense it would apply to those who have been convicted in the past. Rep. Lynch also noted that last year there were some concerns that the funds generated by the fee could be used to support abortion providers.

Ms. Baker said there is no intent for the money to provide any medical-related services. Rather, it would support volunteer efforts, hotlines, education and awareness, victim advocacy and more.