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117th Congress Legislative Update: March 2022


Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022 introduced in the Senate

On Wednesday, February 10, a group of bipartisan senators introduced S. 3623, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2022. The bill, which would reauthorize VAWA through 2027, includes provisions that restore critical categories of Tribal criminal jurisdiction necessary to protect Native women and children, including sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking, child violence, obstruction of justice, and assault of Tribal justice personnel.

This bipartisan bill also establishes an Alaska pilot project, which will enable a limited number of Tribes in the state to exercise special Tribal criminal jurisdiction (STCJ), and clarifies that Tribes in Maine are also eligible to exercise STCJ.

In addition to restoring Tribal jurisdiction over certain crimes, the bill would:

  • Codify the Tribal Access Program (TAP) to enhance Tribes’ ability to access and obtain information from national criminal information databases;
  • Establish a reimbursement program, through which the U.S. Attorney General may reimburse Tribal governments for expenses incurred in exercising STCJ;
  • Permanently reestablish the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Tribal Prisoner Program to allow Indian Tribes to place offenders convicted in Tribal Courts of violent crimes in federal facilities if the sentence includes a term of imprisonment for one or more years; and
  • Increase resources to Tribal governments exercising STCJ.

In March 2021, the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 (H.R. 1620). This bill builds on the progress of the 2013 VAWA reauthorization by reaffirming the inherent sovereign authority of Tribal Nations to hold non-Indian perpetrators accountable in cases involving child abuse, elder abuse, sexual assault, stalking, sex trafficking, and assault on Tribal law enforcement officers. H.R. 1620, which was developed in partnership with national and Tribal advocacy organizations, also includes critical resources for Tribes to implement VAWA.

The House passes the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)

On October 26, 2021, the United States House of Representatives voted 228 to 200 to pass the bipartisan Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (FVPSA) of 2021 (H.R. 2119). The bill, which was introduced on March 23, 2021 by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA-06), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Don Young (R-AK-At Large), and John Katko (R-NY-24), provides critical funding for shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence, including those in Indian Country.

On July 21, 2021, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions marked up S. 1275. The bill advanced out of Committee by voice vote.

This FVPSA reauthorization bill provides critical support for shelters, coalitions, training and technical assistance centers, children’s services, emergency response hotlines, and prevention initiatives. The FVPSA is also the only federal grant program solely dedicated to domestic violence shelter and supportive services and is the primary source of funding for these services for Indian Tribes.

The FVPSA would expand grant programs and make many needed improvements so that more survivors have access to support and safety, including:

  • Adjustment of the funding distribution formula to increase the amount that Tribes receive from 10% to 12.5%;
  • Dedicated funding for Tribal coalitions to provide culturally-appropriate technical assistance to Tribes;
  • Permanent funding for the national Indian domestic violence hotline;
  • Permanent funding for the Alaska Tribal Resource Center on Domestic Violence to reduce disparities facing Native victims; and
  • Permanent funding for the Native Hawaiian Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Tell your Senators to pass FVPSA!

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Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA) and Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act introduced in the Senate

On December 7, 2021, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence Act (S. 3328). The bill would expand Tribal authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 by enabling Tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction in cases of sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, and obstruction of justice committed against Tribal members by non-Native offenders.

On December 8, 2021, Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act (NYTOPA) (S.3337), which would expand Tribal authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 to allow Tribes to prosecute non-Native perpetrators of violence against children or law enforcement in domestic violence cases.

Learn more about MMIW legislation happening in your state!

MMIW State Legislative Tracker Now Available

Graphic of Native woman with tear running down her face and red overlay with "MMIW State Legislative Tracker" and NIWRC in white.The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) State Legislative Tracker is a navigational database designed to help you easily search legislation relating to MMIW within your state and across the country. The Tracker is a continuation of the MMIW Monthly Legislative Summary, previously released as part of our monthly legislative update. Now in the form of a navigational database, we hope that this tool will be useful for state and local legislators, advocates, grassroots leaders, community members, and allies. Currently there are over 30 pieces of legislation moving through the process or already signed into law within this legislative session. 

The MMIW State Legislative Tracker is an educational policy resource, compiling current legislation (2020-2022) at the state level focused on addressing the crisis of MMIW. Included are summaries of the legislation, its status, links to relevant news articles, and more. Note: This resource does not promote or advocate any specific MMIW legislation, nor does it provide analysis of MMIW legislative proposals.

View the Tracker

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