Texas OKs excusing assault victims from campus punishment

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A bill prohibiting colleges and universities from punishing students who are victims of, or who witness or report sexual assaults, has cleared the Texas Legislature -- and now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The proposal began in the Senate, and that chamber voted Thursday to accept changes made when it cleared the House.   

Authored by Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson, it ensures that victims, witnesses and those reporting won't face code violations for things like underage drinking.

It's designed to increase campus sexual assault reporting rates, but also applies to cases involving students occurring off-campus.

The law would take effect beginning in the 2018 spring semester.  

Abbott hasn't indicated whether he will sign Watson's bill, but it will automatically become law anyway, unless he vetoes it.

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