Members of the Missouri House approved House Bill 1135, meant to help victims of domestic violence get away from abusers and move on with their lives.

Under the bill, victims of domestic violence who are engaged with an agency accredited with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence, would receive a one-time fee waiver for obtaining a copy of a birth certificate.

Individuals who leave a home where abuse occurs often leave behind birth certificates as well as other documents and identification. When they attempt to obtain new forms of identification, such as a drivers license or attempt to open a bank account, it is difficult to do so without a birth certificate. The fee to get a new copy is often a burden to a survivor faced with numerous other expenses while trying to start down a new path in life.

These vulnerable people need access to birth certificates in order to participate in legitimate activities leading to independence and self sufficiency. Abusers often take control of a victim’s vital records since that keeps them unable to leave.

This piece of legislation is a small step we can take to help these individuals get on their feet and away from their abuser. The bill also provides a free birth certificate to any homeless or unaccompanied youth and allows an unaccompanied youth to obtain a birth certificate without consent or signature of a parent or guardian.

The bill now is now under consideration in the Missouri Senate.

Jim Neely, R-Cameron, represents the 8th District in the Missouri House. District 8 starts at the northern city limits of Smithville and Kearney and includes Holt. Neely can be reached at (573) 751-0246 or Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov.

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