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Lawmakers continue to roll out Nassar and MSU response legislation

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University Presidents were at the Capitol Building Wednesday in Lansing, MI

State lawmakers want to hit universities in their pocketbooks if they don’t follow certain sexual assault policies.

A measure cleared a House committee Thursday as part of the House’s Higher Education committee budget bill. It would cut university funding by 10% if a university doesn’t follow certain Title IX and sexual assault policies.

“I do believe that a lot of the schools are already doing most of these things,” said state Rep. and committee chair Kim LaSata, R-St. Joseph. “But we just want it to be similar across the board.”

Those policies include having an in-person sexual assault prevention course for some students, and requiring that sexual assault complaints to the Title IX office against employees are shared with the school’s governing body.

“It’s really providing some teeth. Not just that they, we hope that they do it, but if they choose not to do it then it’ll cost them in terms of financial opportunities,” said Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, minority vice chair of the Higher Education Appropriation subcommittee.

The move is in part a response to how Michigan State University handled sexual assault complaints against Larry Nassar. He’s the former Michigan State University sports doctor who sexually assaulted his patients for years. Multiple women say they reported Nassar to MSU, but were ignored.

Lawmakers also introduced a package of bills in response to Nassar. There are 18 bills in this package. They were introduced after lawmakers investigated MSU’s handling of complaints against Nassar.

One bill would require another person present during certain medical exams of minors. Another would expand the definition of who is a “victim” for purposes of giving impact statements during sentencing.  Yet another bill would create a training package for people required to report suspected child abuse and sexual assault, and one would make it a felony to sexually assault a patient under the guise of treatment.

LaSata sponsored one bill. It would require sex education for 11th and 12th graders to include instruction on sexual assault and dating violence. 

“And that is just trying to then reinforce hopefully what they’ve learned before they hit high school,” she said.

Those are added to multiple bills already introduced by the state Senate.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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