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Bills To Address Campus Sexual Misconduct Hit Roadblock

man at sentencing
Katie Cook

Bills to address campus sexual misconduct have stalled in the state Senate.

The bills are the Legislature’s response to Michigan State University’s handling of the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar and complaints about sexual misconduct on college campuses.

The legislation appeared to be a on fast track for votes, but some Republican lawmakers have questions – especially about the constitutionality of extending the time period for filing sexual misconduct lawsuits, and the effects of making it harder for schools and universities to use governmental immunity to fend off lawsuits.

Senate Republican press secretary Amber McCann says lawmakers are immersing themselves in complex legal issues. 

“While everyone in this chamber is a legislator, they’re not necessarily a lawyer,” she said. “Emotionally, the response is a very passionate one from all of the members. There are just a lot of questions about the details, and so we’re sorting through some of those details.”

Michigan public universities, the Catholic Church, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce are among the groups that have asked the Senate to take more time on the bills.

Daniel Hurley with the Michigan Association of State Universities said the goal is not to scuttle the bills.

“Right now, we’re just focusing on the one request that there be a tapping of the brakes, and just much more study by the Legislature on what is a sweeping legislative package.”

There’s no word on whether votes on the bills will come this week.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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