Updated: Mar 1
May 8, 2018
Today the Governor signed legislation that will fundamentally reform how sexual harassment complaints are handled in Annapolis. This landmark legislation, SB1138/HB1342: State Government - Harassment and Discrimination, requires the use of an independent investigator when sexual harassment or retaliation complaints are made against a legislator, removing the investigation from the political process. It also prohibits lobbyists from engaging in sexual harassment of other lobbyists, staff, interns, or legislators. And last, and perhaps most gratifying for the Caucus is the bill’s provision that the Legislative Policy Committee will specifically review and consider the Women's Caucus 22 Policy Recommendations to Prevent Harassment.
Many thanks goes to the legislators, staff, lobbyists, advocates who worked on this important piece of legislation.
About the Bill
For the past 18 months, the Women’s Caucus has worked on the issue of preventing sexual harassment in the Maryland General Assembly. Our mission was to understand and evaluate the efficacy of our existing sexual harassment policy, and make recommendations for improvement if necessary. In February, the Women’s Caucus issued a report including their 22 recommendations addressing the strengthening of accountability mechanisms, creating culture change from the top down, making our reporting process more accessible and confidential, and improving our current training.
This legislation would enact, in whole or in part, 10 of the Women's Caucus recommendations and requires the Legislative Policy Committee of the General Assembly to consider implementing the remaining 12 recommendations. Specifically, the bill as amended includes the following provisions to help strengthen our anti-harassment policies and prevent sexual harassment:
Independent Investigator: Requires the Joint Ethics Committee to refer sexual harassment or retaliation complaints to an independent investigator.*
Lobbyist Accountability: Prohibits a registered lobbyist from sexually harassing other registered lobbyists, an employees, interns, page, or fellow of the Executive Branch or State Government, employees of the Department of Legislative Services, Employees, interns, pages or members of the General Assembly, or a credentialed member of the press.*
Empower the State Ethics Commission: Requires the State Ethics Commission to convene a workgroup reporting to the Workplace Harassment Commission on August 1 and October 1 to determine definitions, potential sanctions or other resolutions, processes and potential partner agencies, potential statutory or regulatory changes necessary, and additional resources required to comply with the new requirements around lobbyists.*
Lobbyist Training: Requires State Ethics Commission add sexual harassment provisions into their training course for registered and prospective lobbyists.*
Staff Training: Requires the Department of Legislative Services to maintain electronic records on workplace harassment training attendance for all employees for at least five years.
Bans State Funds for Settlements: Bans the use of state funds for settlements pertaining to sexual harassment or discrimination.
Member Training & Transparency: Requires the Department of Legislative Services to publish records of training attendance of legislators on the Department's website.*
Policy Updates: Requires Legislative Policy Committee to update the legislature's Anti-Harassment policies every two years and to specifically review and consider the Women's Caucus 22 Policy Recommendations to prevent harassment by December 15, 2018.*
Comprehensive Data Tracking: Requires the Joint Ethics Committee to share complaint information with Human Resources for data tracking purposes including the allegation and action taken.*
Empower the Joint Ethics Committee: Adds to the list of responsibilities of the Joint Ethics Committee the ability to review complaints filed under the Anti-Harassment policies of the General Assembly.*
Executive Branch: Prohibits a state official of the Executive Branch from unlawfully harassing or discriminating, on the basis of any characteristic protected by law, an official or employee, a regulated lobbyist, a credentialed member of the press, or an intern, page, or fellow in any branch of state government
*indicates Women's Caucus recommendation
Read the full bill here: bit.ly/2Izzn0k
HB 1342 Delegate Ariana Kelly, President of the Women Legislators of Maryland, Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, Co-Chair of the Workgroup on Sexual Harassment Delegate Carol Krimm, Co-Chairs of the Workgroup on Sexual Harassment 90 Co-Sponsors: Adams, Ali, Angel, Atterbeary, Aumann, Barkley, Barron, Barve, Beidle, Brooks, Carey, Carozza, Carr, Cassilly, Chang, Cullison, Ebersole, Fennell, Flanagan, Frick, Frush, Gibson, Gilchrist, Glenn, Gutierrez, Hayes, Healey, Hettleman, Hill, Howard, Jackson, Jalisi, Jameson, Kipke, Kittleman, Knotts, Korman, Kramer, Krebs, Lafferty, Lam, Lewis J., Lewis R., Lierman, Lisanti, Long, Luedtke, McComas, McCray, McIntosh, McKay, McMillan, Miele, Miller, Moon, Morales, Morgan, Morhaim, Mosby, Patterson, Pena-Melnyk, Pendergrass, Platt, Proctor, Queen, Reily, Reznik, Robinson, Rose, Rosenberg, Saab, Sample-Hughes, Sanchez, Simonaire, Stein, Sydnor, Tarlau, Turner, Valderrama, Valentino-Smith, Waldstreicher, Washington A., Washington M., Wilkins, Young K., and Young P.
SB 1138 Senator Joan Carter Conway All 47 Senate Co-Sponsors: Astle, Bates, Benson, Brochin, Cassilly, Currie, DeGrange, Eckardt, Edwards, Feldman, Ferguson, Guzzone, Hershey, Hough, Jennings, Kagan, Kasemeyer, Kelley, King, Klausmeier, Lee, Madaleno, Manno, Mathias, McFadden, Middleton, Miller, Muse, Nathan-Pulliam, Norman, Oaks, Peters, Pinsky, Ramirez, Ready, Reilly, Robinson, Rosapepe, Salling, Serafini, Simonaire, Smith, Waugh, Young, Zirkin, and Zucker
· ACLU of Maryland
· AAUW – Maryland
· Common Cause
· Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
· Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
· Maryland Government Relations Association
· Maryland Legislative Asian American & Pacific Islanders Caucus
· Maryland Legislative Black Caucus
· Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus
· Montgomery County Delegation
· National Conference of State Legislatures
· National Women's Law Center
· Not Without Black Women
· Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County
· Women's Law Center of Maryland
· Young Democrats of Maryland Women's Caucus
· UMD Student Government Association
· and more!
Watch the hearing for HB 1342 here: bit.ly/2tmytRd
The hearing for SB 1128 was not live-streamed.
Read President Ariana Kelly's testimony in support here: LINK