A state House Democrat who was involved in the creation of a proposed policy for House interns doesn’t like the process that was used, but is pleased with the result.
Representative Kip Kendrick (D-Columbia) was part of the task force created in May to craft a new House intern policy, and submitted his proposed policy in July.
Kendrick says he’s pleased his recommendations became part of the proposal, including a clarification of who is considered a mandated reporter; expanded training of staff, interns, and lawmakers regarding sexual harassment and inappropriate relationships; and a workplace relationship policy that mirrored the nonfraternization policy proposed by House Speaker Tod Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff).
“That’s, I think, front-and-center. We need to identify clearly what is an acceptable relationship and what is not acceptable,” said Kendrick.
He’s pushing for more changes. The proposed policy calls for requiring investigation of sexual harassment complaints by outside counsel. Kendrick thinks potential counsel should be identified ahead of time.
“I think it will be important to identify a list of potential outside counsels before an investigation is needed, so it’s not just at the last minute the chief clerk or the speaker’s looking for outside counsel,” said Kendrick.
Kendrick was critical of the process, however, saying it needed to have been more transparent.
“I wish the work group could have had a chance to meet and sit down and talk about this in person, but I do think the recommendations that are moving forward are substantial, and it looks like there has been input definitely from outside groups, judging from how substantial the changes are,” said Kendrick.
The next step is for the proposed intern and sexual harassment policies to be considered by a House committee, which will meet Thursday.