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Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.

These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.

Each week The Sentinel will highlight one of the bills that has not received widespread attention.

About the bill

There are a host of impediments victims of domestic violence face when attempting to leave their abuser.

The intimacy of the relationship can often mean the victim and abuser’s lives are intertwined in ways that can be difficult to remedy when either are not willing to end it.

A bill introduced by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh County, aims to remove at least one of those potential roadblocks out of volatile and sometimes dangerous relationships.

Senate Bill 313 would allow victims of domestic violence to receive a court order to terminate or remove themselves from a telephone contract shared with their abuser.

“The confidential, expedient and compassionate handling of shared telephone plans for victims of domestic violence is an important step in ensuring their protection and rehabilitation,” Boscola wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “... This bill is an attempt to safeguard victims from dangerous assailants, protect their health and well-being and even save their lives.”

Under Boscola’s bill, if the victim is the primary account holder, the bill would allow the abuser to be removed from the contract within three days and be mandated any fees as part of an approved protection order or consent agreement.

If a victim is not the primary account holder, Boscola’s bill would allow the victim to opt-out and exit the plan without penalty, providing a written opt-out request is submitted “along with documentation of a valid police report, protection from abuse order or a signed affidavit from a medical or mental health care provider, court employee, counselor, social worker or victim advocate,” according to the co-sponsorship letter.

In these cases, the victim could request a new phone number provided at no additional cost within 24 hours.

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