Over 200 advocates for abused women and children are at the statehouse today, lobbying for two million dollars in state support of agencies that provide shelter and help to Iowans who’re physically and sexually abused. Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault executive director Beth Barnhill says last year, for the first time since 1979, the state failed to provide any money for victim assistance. She says two victim service programs closed — one in Greene County and another in Harrison County. Laurie Schipper of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence says the cuts caused “chaos and disaster” for programs that serve battered and abused women and children.Schipper says victim centers “operate on a shoestring” and some may close next year if the state legislature doesn’t provide the two million dollars. She says it impacts our sisters, mothers and daughters. Representative Mark Smith, a democrat from Marshalltown, is hopeful the money can be restored. Smith says budgeting is tight, but it’s important to help victims.
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