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The election recount spotlight is on Florida, with three hotly contested races. Also on the Monday rundown: Can women sustain their record election gains? And a bill in Congress would help fund preservation of historic sites.

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Maryland Leads the Nation in Response to Sexual Assault

A new Maryland law requires that evidence of sexual assault be kept for 20 years. (Roxanne Ready/Flickr)
A new Maryland law requires that evidence of sexual assault be kept for 20 years. (Roxanne Ready/Flickr)
January 29, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Thanks to the Maryland General Assembly's rapid response and passage of several laws to help victims of sexual assault, some victim advocates say the state is leading the country in its handling of sexual harassment and assault cases.

Last year, several laws took effect, including a provision known as "no means no," saying that evidence of physical resistance is not required to prove that a sexual crime has taken place. The Maryland General Assembly now has formed a commission to examine workplace polices on sexual harassment in all three branches of state government.

Lisae Jordan, executive director and counsel with the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has been named a member of the assembly.

"The Maryland General Assembly is ahead of the country in terms of responding to issues of sexual assault,” Jordan said. “They made policy changes after the Billy Bush Trump tape and have continued to update their policies. "

The General Assembly's Workplace Harassment Commission consists of 11 other women and two men. The panel will review state policies and solicit input from business leaders, the public and policy experts and make recommendations to the Legislative Policy Committee.

Jordan said it's important to have updated policies and procedures in place to reduce incidences of sexual harassment.

"This is another step in making sure that the environment at the General Assembly and throughout the state of Maryland, including state government and the judiciary, is free of sexual harassment,” she said; “and, when sexual harassment occurs, that survivors have a place to go that is independent and effective."

The General Assembly's Workplace Harassment Commission is chaired by Jeanne Hitchcock, who held two cabinet positions in former Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration and senior posts in state and local government and the private sector. The state's latest sexual-harassment policy and procedures is available at the Maryland Department of Budget Management website.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD