Elect more women, ban free booze—while we wait for those not-entirely-utopian proposals to come to pass, perhaps the Legislature can adopt Samantha Spawn’s simple suggestion for rooting sexual harassment out of our Capitol: have victims of sexual harassment report such bad behavior to someone other than the House and Senate leadership!
Spawn says a better mechanism for reporting harassment at the State Capitol needs to be put in place.
As it stands now, lawmakers must go to their chamber’s leadership, made up solely of men who can be dismissive of women’s claims.
She says the dynamics of power play a role as well, such as in cases when a bill is being pushed. Leadership might see action against a party member as damaging to their legislative efforts [Eric Tegethoff, “#MeToo Reaches Pierre, But Where Does SD Go from Here?” Public News Service, 2017.10.30].
Spawn proposes a step akin to what I posted last week in response to the California State Senate leader’s decision to bring in two outside firms to investigate sexual harassment charges. The new Government Accountability Board created by this year’s House Bill 1076 could serve as such an outside entity to hear complaints about sexual harassment in the Capitol… if only the Legislature hadn’t exempted itself from the GAB’s jurisdiction.