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Three KY Lawmakers Deemed "Champions for Justice"

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Three Kentucky state legislators are recipients of the "Champions for Justice Award": Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, Sen. Ralph Alvarado and Sen. Wil Schroder. (Mark Goebel/Flickr)
Three Kentucky state legislators are recipients of the "Champions for Justice Award": Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, Sen. Ralph Alvarado and Sen. Wil Schroder. (Mark Goebel/Flickr)
December 1, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Three Kentucky lawmakers are receiving special recognition today.

State Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, Sen. Ralph Alvarado and Sen. Wil Schroder will be given the "Champions for Justice Award," at the Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference in Lexington.

Deputy Director of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Mary O'Doherty, says the trio championed legislation this year on behalf of survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

"There are a lot of issues competing for their attention, and we greatly appreciate that they decided to use their platform to help survivors of sexual and domestic violence," she says.

Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs says it's an honor to work with state leaders on these issues.

"They understand what is needed, and they step up," Recktenwald notes. "We're very happy about that."

The laws include new leasing protections for survivors of abuse; an update to the state's outdated mandatory domestic-violence reporting law; and extending the statute of limitations for civil cases of sexual abuse.

House Bill 309, sponsored by Prunty, allows victims with long-term protection orders to end a lease with 30 days notice.

O'Doherty says it can help lead to economic self-sufficiency and end the cycle of violence.

"She knows that if she leaves that relationship and walks out on that lease, she's put a big black mark on her rental history, on her credit history," O'Doherty warns. "So, having the ability for survivors to get out of leases when they have long-term orders of protection is a real step forward."

Senate Bill 86 was added to Prunty's bill by Alvarado, and requires mandatory education and referrals for all survivors of intimate-partner violence.

Schroder sponsored SB 224, allowing people more time to bring civil actions against their abusers after a sexual assault.

Recktenwald contends the wave of high-profile sexual-abuse allegations is helping victims in Kentucky find their voices.

"Folks are coming forward and talking about things that they have never spoken about before; they're getting to the point where they feel safe enough to do that," Recktenwald adds.

The laws went into effect on June 29.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY