SANTA FE ― Monday, the bipartisan effort to update the New Mexico Legislature’s harassment policy was adopted unanimously by the Legislative Council.
The policy ensures that training is regularly provided to legislators and staff, that individuals who have experienced harassment have a clear process to follow for reporting of harassment without fear of personal or political retribution, and that every complaint brought forward is addressed swiftly and fairly.
An initial draft of the policy was presented at the Legislative Council meeting in December 2017. The public was invited to provide input at that meeting, and the Legislature continued collecting written comments from the public through early January to ensure participation from community members around the state. The policy was crafted by a bipartisan working group of legislators, including Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), Sen. Gay G. Kernan (R-Hobbs), Sen. James P. White (R-Albuquerque), Sen. Clemente Sanchez (D-Grants), Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Los Lunas), Rep. Elizabeth Thomson (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Jim Dines (R-Albuquerque), and Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces).
The bipartisan policy lays out a clear procedure for handling harassment claims, along with enforceable consequences. Leaders from both chambers are committed to ensuring that the policies within the legislature are comprehensive in scope and promise a safe environment for everyone including staff, contractors, lobbyists, and outside vendors. The policy will be effective immediately, just before the start of the 2018 Legislative Session on Jan. 16.
“I applaud the efforts of the working group and am pleased that the new policy has been adopted by the Council. This effort sends a needed signal that the Legislature takes the issue of harassment seriously. And the interactive training we’ve already received is a positive reflection of the efforts being made. ”
– Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen
“Our legislature took an important step today to let every New Mexican know that their legislature is taking the problem of sexual harassment seriously. This new policy is critical to creating a culture of mutual respect and safety at the Roundhouse.”
– Speaker of the House Brian Egolf
“I sincerely appreciate the accomplishments of this working group. In a short period of time, they proposed a policy that will help make our State Capitol the safe and welcoming environment we need it to be.”
– Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth
“The New Mexico State Legislature has thoroughly reviewed and updated our workplace behavior policy that has been in place and utilized for nearly ten years for the protection of staff, legislators and the public. I am confident the New Mexico State Legislature’s ‘No Harassment Policy’ is now stronger than ever to protect all of those who work in or visit their state capitol.”
– Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle
“Though we know that harassment does not disappear overnight, this comprehensive plan will start the process to address harassment in the Roundhouse, so all individuals associated with the legislature are protected.”
– House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton
“This revised policy is a good first step. Referring complaints to outside counsel is important to give the public confidence that all complaints are being evaluated fairly and are not being ignored or swept under the rug. However, only time will tell if the new policy is effective. We must also periodically review the process to make sure it is working as intended.”
– House Minority Leader Nate Gentry