On Nov. 16, the Governor signed legislation introduced in response to recent allegations of sexual harassment in and around the Statehouse. House Bill 137 will give the Legislative Inspector General power to investigate all complaints submitted during the last three years.
The post of Legislative Inspector General had been vacant since 2015. It was only recently discovered that during the vacancy, complaints were filed but never addressed. However, a statute of limitations in current law may prohibit the new Special Legislative Inspector General from moving forward with an investigation of some complaints, which is why House Bill 137 was introduced to allow the newly-appointed Inspector General to look into these complaints that occurred between the dates of December 2014 and November 2017.
Senate Bill 402 was also signed into law this week, a measure specifically prohibiting sexual harassment of legislators and lobbyists. The measure also requires state agencies and lobbyists to adopt a sexual harassment policy, and requires all state officials, employees, and lobbyists to complete in person sexual harassment training on an annual basis. The new law also imposes penalties for violations of the sexual harassment prohibition and requires the Department of Human Rights to implement a hotline to report sexual harassment.
The passage of these laws are first steps to addressing the problem of sexual harassment at the Capitol. Members of the Senate are taking further steps to combat this issue, with the creation of a new task force on sexual discrimination and harassment, which is currently in development.
Brady Appoints Members to New Senate Task Force
Also this week, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady announced the appointment of five Senate Republican lawmakers who will serve on the newly established Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention to help address the problem surrounding the issue of sexual harassment in Springfield.
The Task Force was recently created to conduct a review of legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in both the private and public sectors. The Task Force will decide on the recommendations on how to combat harassment in workplaces, educational institutions and throughout state and local governments.
Brady appointed the following Senate Republican members to the Task Force:
Pam Althoff (R-32nd District)
Karen McConnaughay (R-33rd District)
John Curran (R-41st District)
Jil Tracy (R-47th District)
Dale Righter (R-55th District)
The members will not receive compensation for this appointment.