A state senator announced today a revision to a bill that would increase marriage license fees and use the additional $2.5 million to $5 million in annual revenue to fund domestic violence shelters across the state.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, proposed increasing a portion of marriage license fees that already funds domestic violence services from $23 to $33.

The bill, AB 662, was formally introduced last year with different language. Next week, though, the wording will be officially changed to propose the marriage license fee, according to Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff.

The funding would be separate from the state’s budget, according to Yee.

“We’re proposing the money because over the years there have been incremental cuts,” Yee said.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a proposed state budget that did not include any funding for domestic violence programs.

The $14.67 million previously allocated for domestic violence was omitted to help close the state’s $19.9 billion deficit, according to the governor’s office.

But Yee said the Legislature needed to increase funding, not eliminate it, so in addition to working with other senators to restore domestic violence money to the state budget, he announced today’s bill.

Yee said failing to fund domestic violence programs not only puts people’s lives in danger, but would result in increased health care, law enforcement and other costs.

He also said domestic violence teaches children to deal with their frustration by striking out, which leads to cycles of violence in the home and in the community.

“It’s called observational learning,” said Yee, who was a child psychologist before he was elected to the state Legislature. “These are not lessons we want to teach anybody.”

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  • Adrian Johnson

    It’s interesting that there’s another ‘marriage penalty’ as if non-married couples (which are significant part of our society now – observation) do not have domestic violence issues. I don’t have a problem anyone getting married to anyone (as long as their human, because you have to be able to have consent?) but why not do something more comprehensive to provide for victims of domestic violence than hitting up people who want to get married? Why not a tax on alcohol, since that seems to be the fuel of abuse oftentimes (yes, I like alcohol like anyone else), perhaps a tax break if you use marijuana instead? Ha.