Maryland Lawmakers to Update Sex Harassment Policy

Maryland lawmakers will take up a proposal to update the Legislature's sexual harassment policy by creating a central repository to keep track of complaints against legislators each year, an official to House Speaker Michael Busch said Monday.

The proposal is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday before the Legislative Policy Committee, a panel of state lawmakers that decides on rules for the Maryland General Assembly.

"We're going to begin centrally tracking complaints," said Alexandra Hughes, the speaker's chief of staff.

The proposal also would enable members of the public to see whether disciplinary action resulted from the complaints, though names would be kept confidential as personnel matters.

Currently, members of the public do not have a way of checking to see how many complaints are filed annually against lawmakers or their staff members.

The latest proposal comes after a wave of allegations against national political, entertainment and media figures.

Maryland lawmakers last updated the sexual harassment policy for the General Assembly last year. Under those changes, lawmakers specifically clarified that a third-party observer of inappropriate behavior could report it to staff members of one of the Legislature's presiding officers or the director of human resources for the state's legislative branch.

The changes last year also added a staff member in the Senate president's office who could receive a report of alleged misconduct to create the option of a male member to whom someone could report.

Every state legislator and staff member in Maryland is provided with a copy of the Maryland General Assembly Workplace Harassment Policy, and they must affirmatively sign that they have received and read the policy. Each of the states 188 legislators must take part in anti-sexual harassment training once per legislative term, which is four years.

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services also hosts new staff human resources orientation each year, where the policy is also reviewed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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