House Ethics Committee to vote on sexual harassment policy

Indiana lawmakers will meet tomorrow to vote on proposed language that would make it an ethical violation for state representatives to commit sexual harassment, a move that comes as high-ranking elected officials are facing harassment allegations of their own.

The House Statutory Committee on Ethics will vote on amended language of the House Code of Ethics upon adjournment of the House session on Tuesday. The House is scheduled to go into session at 1:30 p.m.

If passed, the amended language would allow lawmakers, legislative employees or any other person interacting with state representatives to file a sexual harassment complaint against a legislator with the House Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee would then conduct an investigation into the allegations and, if necessary, file a report with the House Speaker recommending sanctions.

Ethics Committee members heard testimony on the proposed ethical revisions on Jan. 10. Tuesday’s meeting will include committee amendments and a vote only, and if the language is adopted it will advance to the full House for further consideration.

The Senate Ethics Committee adopted similar language earlier this month, sending the proposal to the full Senate, where it is awaiting action.

The proposed amendments to the chambers’ codes of ethics were drafted through the directive ofHouse Enrolled Act 1309, a 2018 bill that required the creation of a legislative sexual harassment prevention policy. Four lawmakers serving on the Personnel Subcommittee of the Legislative Council worked with the Legislative Services Agency to develop the language, which was then unanimously approved by the full Legislative Council.

Further, the amendments to the codes of ethics come at a time when harassment issues are top of mind in the Indiana Statehouse. Attorney General Curtis Hill was accused last year of groping a lawmaker and three legislative staffers, while House Speaker Brian Bosma has been accused of engaging in a consensual sex act with a former intern in the late 1990s.

Both men have denied the allegations, but Hill is now facing a potential civil lawsuit from his accusers.

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