Statement on the Release of the Draft Proposal to the Joint Rules Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response

June 15, 2018

SACRAMENTO – California Senate Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement regarding the proposed recommendations to the Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response. The Subcommittee will discuss the recommendations at its upcoming hearing, scheduled for Monday, June 18, 2018:


“Last year, this Legislature was forced to confront the hard, historic truth of an institutional failure to fully protect our employees and prevent the sexual harassment of those who work in and around the Capitol.  This failure was not limited to one person, party or legislative house – it was systemic. And it demands solutions that are comprehensive, independent, transparent and bicameral. 


“Today, I'm pleased that representatives of both legislative houses have risen to this crucial challenge and have put forth concrete, coordinated solutions to investigating sexual harassment claims going forward. 


“After a series of meetings of the Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response, we propose to create an independent investigatory unit with subject-matter experts as staff to investigate harassment complaints involving legislators and their employees. This unit will be able to engage external investigative support, when appropriate.


“Once these investigations are complete, a three-person panel of independent outside experts will review the investigation findings, and then the Senate or Assembly will review the panel's recommendations and determine next steps.


“This new process is closely modeled after the best practices of the widely respected and successful program in Los Angeles County, which has been in place since 2011.         


“I commend Senator Holly Mitchell and Assembly Member Laura Friedman for overseeing this process and meeting this challenge with thoughtfulness and determination.


“Our duty is to do everything within our legal and ethical authority to protect victims and witnesses, punish perpetrators and restore employee and public confidence in our system. Obviously, this is not something that can or will be corrected overnight, but – with these important proposals – we are acting responsibly and moving closer to an enforceable standard of conduct and bicameral response that are long overdue.”