SACRAMENTO – The Legislative Women’s Caucus has issued the following statement regarding a plan and goals to address sexual assault, harassment and retaliation in the Capitol community:
“The Legislative Women’s Caucus is committed to positive culture and policy changes in the Capitol community formed by a collaborative, bi-cameral and bi-partisan partnership. We will work with all partners to educate and empower a system where perpetrators of assault, harassment or retaliation are held appropriately accountable. We will be the bridge to ensure we move in a responsible and respectful way to cease the pervasive culture of abuse of power. To that end, Legislative Leadership in both houses must adopt a unified approach and plan so that we speak with one voice and one set of rules as one unified body. We have immediate issues to address for the victims, and the solutions must include a lasting cultural change that is sensitive to victims.”
“Most would agree that in order to earn votes to hold public office, you must prove you are worthy and qualified to represent the people you are asking to represent. Given the gravity of these allegations, the burden of proof should be on an elected official to reassure the public that they are fit to hold public office. Similarly, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct and our actions now are imperative to regaining the public’s trust. Accountability and transparency must be the overarching principles to which we aspire.
“Victims must know that their courage will be protected in order to establish believable action by this institution. Our commitment to solving this pervasive problem must be enshrined beyond term-limits and leadership eras.
“Our end goal must be singular: no more victims. As we work towards that goal we recommend four “sub goals” that should guide us: ensure victims are connected to services so their immediate needs are met; create a safe reporting system; hold perpetrators accountable; and change the Capitol culture.
“Thus far, both houses have proposed independent solutions that address part of these goals. While the ideas proposed are part of the overall plan needed, the Women’s Caucus knows that lasting change will only come from a unified course of action by both houses. In the immediate, the Legislative Women’s Caucus requests Leadership contract with professionals to conduct an independent cultural audit of both houses and that all results be made public.
“Moreover, any hearings in the legislature on harassment, assault and retaliation should be bi-cameral and bi-partisan. In particular, we support the creation and direction of the Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation Prevention and Response being led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, and urge the Senate to join the process in order to ensure it is bicameral and the results are applicable to both houses. We also believe part of this process must include a Capitol town-hall to explore what an independent reporting body would look like for this entire community, not just house by house or affiliation by affiliation.
“Our actions must be bold, transformative and unified. Now is not the time to play politics.”
Contact: Teala Schaff (916) 319-2058 or (916) 541-5231