With one ugly story after another about sexual harassment and abuse making headlines nationally, in Bismarck lawmakers have begun discussing their own policies on the matter.
This week the Legislative Procedure and Arrangements Committee met to discuss the matter. A member of that committee, Rep. Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo), spoke with me on air today and made some startling statements.
She estimated to me that as much as 50 percent of the women who work at the Legislature have experienced sexual harassment. “We see the behavior so frequently we’ve almost gotten to the point of accepting it,” she said.
Hogan said the harassment runs the gamut from off-color comments to physical touching. Hogan said she’s witnessed a male lawmaker put his hand on the leg of a female lobbyist during a policy discussion. “What should she do?” Hogan asked.
That’s a good question, because Hogan pointed out that the Legislature doesn’t have process in policy by which that sort of behavior can be reported.
“We have absolutely no procedures or practices for if you feel you have been harassed,” Hogan said.
That’s a problem, Hogan added, because if someone gets sued for harassment it is the taxpayers of North Dakota who would pick up the tab.
Here’s our full interview: