LANSING —House Democrats testified today in the House Law and Justice Committee in support of legislation to prevent sexual assault in Michigan and provide additional supports for survivors. The majority of the bills were part of a bipartisan package introduced last month, based on conversations between Democratic legislators and survivors, sexual assault prevention experts, and key stakeholders. In addition, many of the recommendations mirrored those offered by the Progressive Women’s Caucus in February of this year, when they outlined their principles for sexual assault prevention, support for survivors, and additional accountability on college campuses.
“What these incredible women and girls suffered is unthinkable, and their bravery during these extremely difficult conversations has been truly amazing,” said state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “We have a responsibility as legislators to ensure not only that this never happens again, but that those who have been victimized — by Larry Nassar or by the many unnamed perpetrators who have continue to prey on the innocent and the vulnerable — have the resources and support they need to find healing.”
“One of the biggest takeaways from this tragic situation is how very broken our reporting and prevention system is, at every conceivable level,” said House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), who introduced HB 5671 to create a Title IX Ombudsman in the Department of Civil Rights to better provide a means to justice for students on college campuses. “Though it is heartbreaking that it took a situation like the one at MSU to bring this conversations out into the open, I’m glad to see this issue get the meaningful attention it deserves. I continue to be awed by the strength of the survivors we worked with in crafting this legislation and I guarantee we are not going to let this conversation end here. This is only the beginning.”
Representatives testified in support of their individual bills in the 23-bill package, including several bills based on recommendations made previously by House Democrats and the Progressive Women’s Caucus. One piece in particular — House Resolution 164, introduced by state Rep. Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw) calling on public universities to improve policies, training and victim services regarding sexual assault and stalking — was introduced last September.
“The long-term effects from sexual assault and violence often last a lifetime. This is why we need to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies from occurring and ensure that survivors have the resources they need to meet their unique challenges to heal,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton). “Our package of bills is a step in the right direction, but our jobs do not end here. We understand that one piece of legislation will not undo the serious trauma survivors experience — whether it is the survivors at the center of the Nassar scandal, or the thousands of others who cannot or have not yet come forward. Our End Sexual Assault bill package is an excellent start to stopping sexual violence once and for all. Prevention and protection are ongoing efforts that requires continuous vigilance, cultural shifts and understanding, and this is something my House Democratic colleagues and I will continue to fight for.”