|NM Legislature Joint Statement on No Harassment Policy
Joint Statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen, Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry
For Immediate Release: November 29, 2017
Contact: Chris Nordstrum, (505) 986-4819 Chris.Nordstrum@nmlegis.gov
(Santa Fe, NM) Today, leaders from both the House and Senate announced the following plan to address the issue of sexual harassment in the legislature:
Everyone who conducts business with or on behalf of the legislature should be able to do so in a safe and productive environment. Individuals who have experienced harassment of any kind must feel assured that they can come forward without fear of personal or political retribution. And, every case brought forward must be addressed swiftly and fairly, through a clearly outlined procedure and with enforceable consequences. Misconduct of any kind, but sexual harassment in particular, will not be tolerated.
This is not a partisan issue and responsibility falls on all of us to take thoughtful action at this time. Leaders from both chambers are committed to ensuring that our policies are comprehensive in scope and promise a safe environment for everyone working in and with the legislature. To accomplish this, we have formally requested that a select group of legislators work with the Legislative Council Service and outside counsel to review our existing “No Harassment Policy.” This group will present draft recommendations to the policy at the next Council meeting, after which public input, comments and recommendations will be taken through early January from anyone interested in providing input. Subsequently, a policy for formal adoption by the Council will be considered at the Council meeting in January.
The group will address issues such as
- The applicability of the policy to include not just legislators but staff, contractors, lobbyists and outside vendors;
- Seeing that updated and comprehensive training is readily available;
- Ensuring that the processes in place for reporting and addressing incidents thoroughly protect the accuser from any form of retaliation;
- Holding every member (and all those to whom the policy will apply) accountable to the highest standard and clearly outlining terms of enforcement.
Harassment of any kind has no place in the New Mexico Legislature. We must do everything we can to make the Roundhouse a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all who seek to play a part in shaping this state’s future.
“The issue of sexual harassment is real, and we in the New Mexico Senate take it seriously. That is why we have appointed and empowered – on a bipartisan basis – a working group to take a hard look at the problem of sexual harassment in all aspects of the work of our legislature, including legislators, staff, lobbyists and visitors.”
– Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen
“My hope is that this effort doesn’t just result in a policy change, but in a cultural change at the Roundhouse. If we want our state to be safe and inclusive then we must make the halls of the Roundhouse safe and inclusive for all who work or visit there.”
– Speaker of the House Brian Egolf
“The working group is tasked with conducting research on needed policy changes to address sexual harassment in the Capitol. We intend to tackle this problem, and will take strong action.”
– Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth
“The New Mexico State Legislature examined and then updated its sexual harassment and workplace behavior policy in 2008. That policy, which has been in place and utilized for nearly ten years for the protection of staff and legislators, will be thoroughly reviewed and updated once again by the special, bipartisan working group which is accepting input from the public. I am confident the New Mexico State Legislature’s “No Harassment Policy” will be stronger than ever to protect all of those who work in or visit their state capitol.”
– Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle
“Harassment or sexual harassment of any kind in any environment is unacceptable. Therefore, a more comprehensive plan to address this issue will be implemented to represent all individuals associated with the legislature.”
– House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton
“The legislature’s current sexual harassment policy is in need of a comprehensive overhaul. I look forward to working to ensure the victims have swift access to justice without fear of retaliation.”
– House Minority Leader Nate Gentry