A state House committee Tuesday deferred action on legislation that would help victims of domestic violence with housing.
The measure will come up again next week after some changes are drafted to satisfy members concerns, said House Civil Law Committee chairman Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans.
State Senate President Pro-Tem Sharon Broome tried to get the panel to advance Senate Bill 174 to the House floor, promising to get the change made before it would be taken up there.
But the panel voted 7-6 to postpone action on the measure, which aims to prevent housing discrimination against domestic abuse victims. Leases often have provisions that make domestic violence or frequent police visits a cause for eviction.
“One of the greatest challenges victims face ... is keeping safe and stable housing,” said Broome, D-Baton Rouge. The legislation provides “a tool in the tool kit to help remedy that,” she said.
One provision of the bill would protect victims from eviction, if they can prove with court documents or health records to be a victim.
Broome said she has worked with business groups to add in additional protections for landlords.
Among other provisions, it would bar landlords from evicting tenants for frequently calling the police due to the actions of an abuser. It also would allow landlords to evict abusers if there is “reasonable documentation” of abuse.
One major provision of the bill would allow domestic violence victims to break a lease without penalty if they have a court protection order or are recognized as a victim by a state-recognized social worker.
Several lawmakers worried the bill could saddle landlords with unfair legal liability. Others felt the bill was written sloppily and could lead to unintended consequences if it moved forward in its current form.
“There are a lot of people who are maybe deserving of this,” said Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette. “But I also think it opens the door to some opportunists abusing this.”