A handful of bills that would strengthen sexual harassment policies in state government passed a Senate committee Wednesday.
Senator Regina Barrow’s (D-Baton Rouge) bill has the support of Gov. John Bel Edwards. It requires all public employees and elected officials to complete one hour of sexual harassment training every year.
"This is a way of having uniformity and continuity with insuring that all public servants are receiving sexual harassment training," she told members of the Senate and Governmental Affairs committee.
Right now, there's no state law requiring they go through sexual harassment training in the first place.
A bill by Rep. Barbara Carpenter (D-Baton Rouge) has already been approved by the full House. It also makes training a requirement, and it directs agency leaders in both state and local government to develop anti-sexual harassment policies.
"The bill requires a clear statement that unwelcome conduct will not be tolerated," she explained.
Plus, agencies would have to report the number of sexual harassment claims made each year.
The broadest of the bills was brought by Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell). It mandates agencies set a policy, train their employees and outlines how sexual harassment complaints are filed.
"We want the victim to feel comfortable with who they’re reporting it to, because that’s going to be the person who does the investigation. We want them to feel confident that something will actually happen," she said.
Hewitt's bill would allow employees to file a claim outside of the agency they work for, as a way to encourage victims to report sexual harassment.
Some senators suggested they'd rather see one comprehensive sexual harassment bill, rather than several that share a lot in common. Despite that, all the bills made it through unanimously and are headed to the Senate floor.