INSIDERS: Why Joni Ernst Changed Her Stance on How the Military Handles Sexual Assaults


Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks to reporters following a Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Part 1: Why Joni Ernst Changed Her Stance on How the Military Handles Sexual Assaults

There is hope that an 8-year-long effort to change the way the U.S. military investigates sexual assaults will gain enough bipartisan support to become law. A U.S. senator who is a veteran and a survivor is helping lead the charge.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, are two of the lawmakers pushing for a bill that would allow trained military prosecutors to handle investigations rather than military commanders.

For nearly a decade, Ernst, who is a survivor of sexual assault herself and a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, opposed the legislation. She wanted to keep commanding officers in charge of the investigation. But Ernst says time and a lack of progress changed her mind.

Part 2: Simpson College Hires Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Starting June 1, Keyah Levy begins a job no one has ever had at Simpson College in Indianola. She will serve as the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Levy most recently served as director of multicultural education and gender and sexuality services at the University of Northern Iowa. She will lead the implementation of programs designed to ensure fair and equitable treatment and success of students at Simpson College.

Marsha Kelliher, who last year became the first woman president of Simpson College, created Levy’s new position on campus. She explains why.

Part 3: Gov. Reynolds Supports Banning Transgender Students From Girls’ Sports

Some Republican politicians across the country are working to ban transgender students from competing in sports that don’t match their gender assigned at birth. They don’t believe a young man transitioning to a woman should compete in girls’ sports.

Here’s the exchange Gov. Kim Reynolds had with reporters about the topic, beginning with why she says she would sign a bill banning this when she typically says she doesn’t comment on legislation until she sees the final bill.

Insiders Quick 6: Marsha Kelliher

Simpson College President Marsha Kelliher is the guest for this week’s Insiders Quick 6.

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