Public Safety Finance and Policy committee discusses privacy for domestic violence advocates and victim-survivors

Notes by Cirien Saadeh, Executive Director and Community Journalist

In a Feb. 15 meeting of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy committee, Rep. Kelly Moller (40A) introduced House File 3509. Screenshot by Cirien Saadeh

In a Feb. 15 meeting of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy committee, Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – 40A) introduced House File 3509, which aims to update Minnesota’s domestic abuse advocate privacy privileges. 

“Everybody’s aware of the medical privilege you have with your medical providers, mental health providers. But we also have in statute privileges for the communications between a sexual assault advocate and a victim-survivor and a domestic violence advocate-victim survivor,” said Rep. Moller in her bill introduction. “For some reason the statute has some disparities with regards to how protective that privilege is for domestic violence.” 

Rep. Moller was joined by Rana Alexander, the Director of Finance with Standpoint Minnesota, a domestic and sexual violence advocacy organization. 

“Victim-survivors often express a feeling of being re-victimized by the system when their records from a domestic violence program are sought,” said Alexander in her testimony to the committee. “Victim-survivors have the right to expect one thing: confidential, private help with the domestic violence they have experienced. Federal and state law support that expectation and Minnesota’s domestic abuse advocate privilege needs to be amended so we can honor that right to privacy.” 

There was one public testifier on the bill, from the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, supporting the legislation. Committee discussion was limited. The only comment came from  Rep. Paul Novotny (GOP – 30B) who urged GOP members to support the bill. 

The bill was re-referred, with unanimous support,  to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law committee. 

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