Bill would create confidential Legislative Tip Line to report misconduct in the legislative workplace

12/05/2017 05:39 PM

FRANKFORT — With the recent sexual harassment allegations that have rocked the House GOP, which resulted in House Speaker Jeff Hoover stepping down from his leadership position, two Republican House members have filed legislation to create a Legislative Tip Line to confidentially report wrongdoing within the legislature.

Rep. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, and Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, pre-filed the bill (B.R. 346) that would set up the tip line to be directly administered by the Legislative Ethics Commission, which would have authority to investigate complaints against members of the General Assembly, employees of the legislature, legislative agents, and any other person interacting with members of the General Assembly or employees of the legislature.

Offenses would include harassment, discrimination, ethical or official misconduct, theft and fraud.

“It’s a 24-hour tip line and it’ll be handled through LRC, so these messages will be picked up, it’s all confidential,” Moser said. “It’s just putting in a system as part of an immediate response to some of the things that we’ve been hearing.”

According to the legislation, within two hours of receiving a complaint, the executive director of the Legislative Ethics Commission would review the complaint and have 24 hours to notify the alleged perpetrator of the complaint and the allegations.

Within 30 days of the receipt of a complaint and the ensuing investigation, which would involve interviewing the complainant and perpetrator, the commission’s staff would give a status of the complaint to the commission’s board and the director of the Legislative Research Commission, including those complaints that were resolved.

Currently, complaints made by employees of the LRC are reported to the same body that investigates and which reports to legislative leadership officers. As a result, there is no involvement by an independent, third-party entity with the ability to level disciplinary actions against any party.

“We’re looking at whether it should be internally or a third party, and Rep. Fleming and myself have been tasked with chairing an ethics reform task force,” Moser said. “This legislation is just a starting point. I think we will take a really hard look at what we have in place.

On Friday, a report commissioned by the House Republican Caucus was released that detailed procedural improvements concerning human relations practices surrounding the reporting of alleged wrongdoing.

The report outlined items to be implemented, which will create some long-term solutions to flaws that currently exist in the process.

Moser believes that the legislation will begin to correct some of those issues.

“I think that things are not very clear. I think we need to do more of a focused and thorough look at what we have in place as far as policies and procedures to deal with anything that feels like sexual harassment,” Moser said.

Moser, who is concluding her first year in the House, says that she has not experienced any harassment while in the legislature.

“No, not here, not at all,” Moser said. “It’s not to say that you don’t get comments but, you know, I think it’s different with me. I’m not afraid to tell someone that they’re being inappropriate. Now a 22-year-old or a 23-year-old may not feel that way, an employee may not feel that way, and so we need to put certain protections in place so that we can have a respectful environment.”

The legislation provides that employees who file complaints via the Legislative Tip Line will be protected from reprisal, including threats and the use of influence to discourage or interfere with any complaint.

Annually, the commission will be required to publish a summary of complaints and distribute it to the members of the commission, the director of the commission, each member of the Legislative Research Commission, and the director of the LRC.

“We need to make sure that people feel like they have a safe place to work and that we are again, creating a respectful and professional workplace,” Moser said.


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