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Politics & Government

Idaho Legislature Holds Sexual Harassment Training During First Week At Statehouse

Otto Kitsinger
AP Images
Idaho House Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg speaks to reporters about the upcoming 2017 legislative session at the State Capitol building Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 in Boise, Idaho.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the Idaho Legislature held mandatory sexual harassment training for all 105 lawmakers at the statehouse Tuesday. Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill (R-Rexburg) says the goal was to get everyone on the same page about what is and isn’t proper behavior at the capitol.

“This is preventative in nature and we just want to make a good environment here," says Hill. "Not only for the people that work here on a regular basis, but for the people who visit. This is the people’s house; people should be able to come here and feel safe and enjoy the experience – including being free of any kind of harassment.”

The training came the same day as a draft policy was posted on the legislative website. The policy outlines ways for lawmakers, lobbyists, state employees, pages, journalists and anyone who visits the capitol to report harassment.

Hill says before the training, he heard some pushback from people concerned about how it would be perceived.

“I think some were concerned that by doing it, the public perception might be ‘Oh, we’ve got a big problem here. And I think most people don’t feel like there is a problem, and so they were afraid of public perception there.”  

Hill says although he doesn’t think the Idaho Legislature has a problem with sexual harassment, the training helps raise everyone’s awareness of the issues.

“Not everything is intuitive. And everyone’s a little bit different, and so learning to have respect for one another. That some people may be comfortable with something, other people would not be.”

The draft policy lays out how individuals should report harassment at the statehouse, and gives specific examples of potential abuses. It requires mandatory workplace training every two years for lawmakers and legislative staff.

Hill says the next step is to form a working group comprised of people in a variety of roles at the statehouse who will finalize the new harassment policy.

Here's the draft policy below.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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