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Victims need to be protected at all costs

Victims of domestic abuse who are seeking an escape from their situation do not have an easy choice. Fleeing might mean the loss of shelter and financial security — perhaps even the loss of a job, which could prompt the courts to award custody of children to someone else. For some victims, a workplace can become an easy target for abusers who harass and intimidate not just the victim, but coworkers. Victims can find themselves hopping from job to job to escape. Sometimes they end up unemployed for a while.

That is why Ohio Reps. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, and Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, introduced a bill that would make domestic abuse victims eligible for unemployment compensation if they have to quit to escape. The bill sounds as though it should be a no-brainer for lawmakers.

But there is a problem. Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Fund is in trouble. State Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, has said he believes the fund would be broke in less than six months if the state was to face a major recession. Lawmakers have yet to find a solution, or approve any kind of restructuring proposal, that would shore up the fund. That makes expanding the criteria for eligibility a difficult choice.

Buckeye State lawmakers should find a way — ideally as part of restructuring that makes the Unemployment Compensation Fund healthier — to expand unemployment benefits for those who cannot escape abusive situations while keeping their current jobs. It could make a world of difference in allowing them to escape, keep their families intact … and jump back into a new job more quickly.

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