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News Release
Commission Adopts Temporary Rules for Victims of Domestic Violence
 
August 16, 2005 (2005 - 018)
 
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR – Effective September 1, 2005 those at risk of domestic violence will not have to worry about having their basic phone service disconnected for unpaid bills.
 
Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission adopted temporary rules to allow those at risk of domestic violence to go on a payment plan instead of having their service cut off.
 
Senate Bill 983, which was passed in the recently concluded legislative session, directs the Oregon Public Utility Commission to establish a program that bars local phone companies from disconnecting service if it would significantly endanger a person who is at risk of domestic violence or unwanted contact. It also applies to disabled or elderly individuals at risk of abuse or a victim of stalking.
 
Clark Jackson, the manager of Consumer Services for the Commission said, "The new program is very similar to our existing emergency medical certificate program, so we will gladly assist the utilities in establishing this new program."
 
The legislation requires telecommunications utilities to establish procedures for receiving affidavits from customers at risk of domestic violence or abuse. The customer must submit a court issued restraining order with an affidavit to the utility.
 
SB 983 does not excuse the customer from paying their telephone bill. The law allows the customer to enter into a reasonable payment agreement with the utility if there is an overdue balance.
 
The Commission expects to have permanent rules in place by February 27 of next year when the temporary rules expire.