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Proposal Dismantles Barrier Faced by KY Domestic Violence Victims

State Rep. Joni Jenkins is sponsoring a bill to allow victims of domestic and dating violence to legally break a lease to leave a dangerous situation. (LRC Public Information)
State Rep. Joni Jenkins is sponsoring a bill to allow victims of domestic and dating violence to legally break a lease to leave a dangerous situation. (LRC Public Information)
January 19, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. - A bill filed in the Kentucky House would give victims of domestic and dating violence the ability to legally break their home or apartment lease as they leave a dangerous situation. The sponsor of House Bill 41, Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), says the legislation will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee next week.

According to Jenkins, the proposal breaks down a barrier many victims face.

"So many times," says Jenkins. "It's the economics that hamper them from seeking safety."

Jenkins says domestic-violence survivors often end up with bad credit when they flee a dangerous situation. The bill still requires giving landlords a 30-day notice, but says the person can get out of the remainder of a lease if they are under a court's protective order. Jenkins says that's in the bill to ensure that people don't break leases randomly.

A similar bill was heard in committee last year, but not voted on. Jenkins says provisions have been added to clarify who pays for what when a lease is broken, including allowing civil action for a landlord's economic losses.

"We didn't want landlords to be negatively impacted by fiscal matters," she says. "Making repairs, changing locks. The whole goal of this bill is to make those persons who are affected by abuse safer, and the people that live around them safer."

Jenkins says the bill, which would also cover victims of stalking and sexual assault, has been endorsed by the Kentucky Board of Realtors and the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky. Federal law already provides similar protection to those who live in federally-subsidized housing.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY