Illinois lawmakers tackle sexual harassment

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- Tackling sexual harassment at the Capitol was on the top of the agenda during the final week of fall session. 

Lawmakers spent most of the day Tuesday passing measures and resolutions dealing with sexual harassment at the Capitol. Passing a two bills and several resolutions. 

“This is a beginning. We addressed problems and issues that should have been tackled a long time ago. I look forward to the task force recommendations on the next steps we need to take and offer my support for them.” said Senate President John Cullerton. 

HB 137 passed both chambers unanimously. This measure takes away the statue of limitations for complaints pending at the Legislative Ethics Commission, currently, complaints must be investigated within a year.

"We have 27 outstanding complaints each one of those has somebody who has issued that complaints, has concerns, each one has somebody who has been concerned. Not having the investigations does not serve either side well." said Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

SB 402, also passed both chambers without opposition. This measure does four things. First, it amend the Ethics Act, to prohibit sexual harassment giving each Inspector General the authority to investigate sexual harassment claims and bring any claim before an ethics commission for a hearing. Second, it requires every constitutional officer, elected official, state employee, registered lobbyist, lobbyist entity and unit of government to adopt a local sexual harassment policy. Third, it requires annual sexual harassment training. Every constitutional officer and legislative leader must submit a report to the ethics commission with plans for training and the names of those who did not participate in the training. Finally, it creates a hotline run by the Department of Human Rights to report sexual harassment complaints to. 

"I think this bill goes a long way to making sure its possible for the sun to shine instead of the shadows to prevail when people misbehave around this assembly" said Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).

Resolutions condemning sexual harassment and setting goals to prevent sexual harassment at the Capitol as well as creation of a sexual assault task force were also passed. 

The measure will now head to Governor Rauner.  

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