State Senate passes bill to help sexual assault victims - WNEM TV 5

State Senate passes bill to help sexual assault victims

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LANSING, MI (AP) -

Michigan lawmakers push for new protections for victims of sexual assault.

The bills, which passed the Senate, seek to offer victims top care, treating injuries and administering sexual assault kits.

"We're very excited. We're hopeful that this legislation will go through," said Tracy Rainey, director of Crisis Services for the Bay Area Women's Center.

She said she is glad to see state lawmakers try to do more for victims of sexual assault. Earlier this month the state Senate passed two bills designed to help those victims.

"This will put more money here for us to be able to work with to provide a better and more comprehensive service for victims of crime," Rainey said.

The proposed pieces of legislation would increase state payments to medical providers for treating sexual assault victims. Sponsors of the measures said the move would pave the way for more access and better care for the victims.

Advocates for sexual assault victims in Saginaw said they would also like to see the legislation become law.

"I think anything that's going to benefit being able to provide stronger services to victims is something that I would want to support," said Adrianne Coker, director of Child and Family Services Sexual Assault Center.

She said the proposed measures state more sexual assault nurse examiners, known as sane nurses, will be readily available to help victims.

"They have the experience and the education to be able to provide them medical care that they need. As well as gather the forensic evidence that is required to be able to be more successful in court if the victim so chooses to go that route," Coker said.

As for Rainey, she believes more money and better care is what's needed for sexual assault victims. With the state Senate's overwhelming support of the bills, Rainey hopes other lawmakers in Lansing will take note.

"It is another voice from the state legislature that says 'we support victims. We want you to come forward. We want you to have the access to the best services possible,'" Rainey said.

The bills head to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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