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Analysis: Legislative workgroup releases recommendations aimed at addressing sexual misconduct

Ted S. Warren
AP file

Following eight months of meetings, a workgroup on the prevention of sexual harassment in the Washington state House is recommending the formation of an independent office where victims could report misconduct, among other reforms.

In an on-air chat with All Things Considered host Ed Ronco, Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins said the full set of recommendations is robust.

The package of suggested reforms was forwarded to House leaders for their consideration this week. The workgroup also is recommending the House:

  • Adopt a new code of conduct that all House members and staff would be required to sign, and lobbyists would have to sign in order to be in good standing with the state's Public Disclosure Commission.
  • Require mandatory training for House members and staff on the code of conduct, respectful workplace policy and avenues for reporting harassment. 
  • Require an additional five hours of "elective" respectful workplace training per year on topics such as peer-to-peer counseling and bystander training.
  • Create a training advisory committee to develop and approve trainings.

In a letter to House leadership, members of the workgroup wrote: "We hope that these recommendations will foster a safe and respectful environment for the entire legislative community."

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.
Kari Plog is an award-winning reporter covering the South Sound, including Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties. Before transitioning to public radio in 2018, Kari worked as a print journalist at The News Tribune in Tacoma.