The California Legislature may create a new investigative unit to focus solely on harassment and discrimination complaints and hire an outside panel of experts to recommend discipline for perpetrators.
Those are key pieces of a sweeping policy overhaul proposed Friday by two lawmakers tasked with revamping the Capitol’s sexual misconduct policies after several lawmakers and high-level staffers were accused of groping and other inappropriate conduct. The policy could be edited before an approval vote June 25, but Assembly and Senate leaders offered their support.
Critical details are still lacking, such as how much the new unit would cost, how many employees it would include and how members of the independent review panel would be selected. But Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and Sen. Holly Mitchell, who drove the new proposal, called it a major step toward improving the Capitol culture to better protect employees from harassment and discrimination.
“This is a sea change,” Friedman said, a Glendale Democrat. “I think (it’s) very, very different from what other government entities have done.”
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, statehouses across the country are grappling with how best to handle inappropriate workplace culture and conduct by lawmakers who can only be removed by voters.