State Representative Joni Jenkins has filed a resolution that would add sexual harassment education to the annual mandatory ethics training for state lawmakers.
The filing comes after formal ethics complaints were filed against Rep. John Arnold of Western Kentucky. Three legislative staffers have accused him of sexual harassment and assault.
Legislators do not currently undergo sexual harassment education as part of their annual ethics training. Jenkins says state employees need to work in a safe climate without fear of reprisal for bringing forth such complaints
“Not only do we as legislators need to be aware of our own behavior," she said. "We also need guidance if we are witnessing colleagues or other employees that are acting inappropriately, and we need to know how best we address that.”
After the allegations against Arnold were made public, House Speaker Greg Stumbo took to the floor to assure his colleagues that proper action was taken regarding the complaints. He also dismissed any claims of a cover up of Arnold's actions.
However, Representative Reginald Meeks of Louisville said that he was “underwhelmed” by the speech.
“What I would have liked to have heard from you is what you and the Senate president and the leadership of LRC commit to do to change the culture that may or may not exist that allows that festering to take place," he said.
Meeks said that if there is a process in place to address harassment but staffers don’t feel comfortable utilizing it, then more work needs to be done to change it.
After Jenkins introduced her bill, Stumbo said he will make the sexual harassment component of future ethics training legally enforceable.