A week after hundreds of women signed an open letter condemning an atmosphere of sexual harassment and worse in and around the state Capitol, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced Tuesday that the California Assembly will begin holding hearings on the issue next month.

Rendon issued a joint statement with Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), chair of the Assembly Rules Committee, and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), chair of the Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention & Response. Friedman’s committee will hold public hearings in November.

In the statement, the lawmakers say sexual harassment must be addressed in three ways.

“First, we must change the climate that has allowed sexual harassment to fester,” the statement read. “Second, we must ensure victims have a safe and dependable environment to come forward and discuss complaints no matter who the perpetrator is and without detriment to their career or environment. Third, we must ensure that sexual harassment is dealt with expeditiously and that the seriousness of consequences match the violations committed.”

Yesterday the leader of the state Senate announced two outside firms have been hired to address harassment in that legislative branch. An independent law firm will look into allegations of sexual harassment and assault. An outside human resources firm will review the Senate’s policies on harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Organizers behind the sexual harassment letter criticized the Senate’s actions as inadequate. They said the process lacked transparency and that women who have experienced harassment in the Senate have no incentive to cooperate with an investigation sponsored by the Senate.

State Assembly Hearings Will Address Sexual Harassment 25 October,2017Katie Orr

Author

Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED’s Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She’s also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She’s been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country’s top state Capitol reporters.   She’s also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr

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