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House once again passes Larry Nassar response bills

Myesha Johnson

Four out of eight bills in a package addressing child abuse passed the state House of Representatives Thursday.

The package is part of a years-long effort to respond to the serial sexual abuse by former Michigan State University athletics doctor Larry Nassar.

The bills create a more uniform training process for mandatory reporters of suspected abuse, prevent coercion to keep someone from reporting, and address survivor anonymity.

State Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) sponsors the bill dealing with mandatory reporting guidance. She said there are currently some inconsistencies with the availability of training materials.

“My bill would direct DHHS to ensure that the training material available actually gets into the hands of mandatory reporters,” Rogers said.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Julie Alexander (D-Hanover Twp) says state law currently only prohibits someone from using physical force to stop someone from reporting abuse or sexual assault.

“What we have learned in many of these situations is that while physical force is the most obvious form of persuasion, the use of an individual’s power of authority over an individual can also be just as coercive,” Alexander said.

She indicated that these bills are among dozens of ideas the legislature worked on after the Larry Nassar scandal.

“We told those survivors of Larry Nassar that we had their back and we would work at changing laws that would help to prevent a similar incident from happening again. So it’s taken some time but we did not give up,” Alexander said.

The House has passed identical bills twice before in previous terms with wide bipartisan support but they didn’t make it to a Senate vote.

Both Alexander and Rogers are pointing to timing issues for why those bills didn’t make it across the finish line. The other four House bills in this package have made it out of committee and await a floor vote.

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