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Lobbyist says she was harassed by current PA lawmaker Spotlight PA

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HARRISBURG — A lobbyist for one of Pennsylvania’s most influential unions says a sitting state congressman sexually harassed her and has internal rules governing who can file misconduct complaints. I am asking Congress to expand the

Andy Perez, who is defending on behalf of Harrisburg’s International Union of Service Workers 32BJ, argued at a hearing organized by new House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D., Burks) in Philadelphia on Friday. bottom.

Rozzi plans a series of public meetings to solicit feedback on the Capitol’s operating procedures. amid a partisan stalemate over which party controls the chamberThis session provides a rare opportunity for Pennsylvanians to consider the rules first hand, and most are adopted immediately at the start of a new legislative session.

Perez said Friday she was harassed by a male lawmaker while discussing the bill outside the Capitol. She did not provide the lawmaker’s name, his party affiliation or additional details.

Rep. “decided to caress my legs while I was wearing the skirt and said she was impressed with my passion and knowledge of the issues we were discussing during that time,” Perez said. “I left him hoping he would stop, but he didn’t.”

“I sat here for hours after this, telling you the different emotions I felt,” she continued. I was outraged at the rudeness and arrogance required to sexually harass me so blatantly in a public place where I was about to.”

Perez tried to file a complaint with the state’s House Ethics Committee, but was told, “Sorry, but you are not an employee of the House and you cannot file a complaint under the rules. Nothing allowed further action.”

In a short reply Friday, Lotzi thanked Perez for his “courage.”

“I promise it will be another issue to consider in future regulations,” he said.

“We have had situations in the past, and unfortunately, we know they can happen in the future,” a spokesperson for the state’s House of Representatives Democratic Party said in a statement.

“Although progress has been made through the rule changes adopted in 2019, we continue to work to develop a broader set of rules to ensure a fair process for allegations of harassment and discrimination, and we We will ensure that the protected class is included in the final adopted rules at this session,” spokesperson Nicole Riegelmann said.

A spokesperson for the House Republican Caucus said it was “not informed of the allegations referred to.”

In 2019, state House leadership added workplace protections to House rules for the first time, banning “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” bottom.

After change two women He accused a male lawmaker of physical and sexual abuse, but he continued to serve in Congress until the end of his term. received a restraining order against him

as a spotlight PA previously reported, the policy is for State Legislature employees only. This meant that individuals who regularly interacted with legislators, including other government officials, lobbyists, voters and journalists, were unable to report allegations to the commission.

Perez wants the legislature to adopt sexual abuse and harassment policies that target more people who interact with lawmakers in the course of their official duties.

“No one is above the law,” Perez said. “Members of Congress who harass someone should be held accountable by their peers through an ethics process.”

State Houses and Senates usually adopt rules on the first day of each new two-year legislative session, following the decisions of their leaders. divulge details behind closed doors.

The Senate did so on Jan. 3, but the House rules remain pending. The Democratic Party is awaiting the outcome of a special election expected to give them a majority of the vote.This will allow the party to set the rules without compromise.

Rozzi canceled an upcoming session of the state legislature and convened a bipartisan committee to negotiate the rules. According to his office, he’s working to “create a solution to the partisan impasse” and to find avenues for advancing constitutional amendments that would give survivors of childhood sexual abuse the chance to sue their perpetrators. I was planning a listening tour.

The latter is the personal cause of Rozzi, a survivor himself. He said Friday that he plans to hold at least two more public hearings before releasing a regulation package “that every Pennsylvanian would be proud of.”

Hearings provide a rare opportunity for Perez and other supporters to publicly discuss the rules that determine how easy or difficult it will be to pass legislation, and, importantly, the disciplinary process for lawmakers.

Perez’s experience has already sparked reactions within Congress, according to her testimony. Kate Crank Rep. (Rep., York) Last year proposed a rule change State members of the House are expressly prohibited from “sexually harassing while performing House-related services or duties, or on or on property or facilities owned or leased by the House.”

Perez said Crank’s proposal, which was not adopted, would be “a step towards changing Harrisburg’s culture.”

As with the state House of Representatives, state Senate rules only allow members and employees of the House to file internal sexual harassment complaints.

In early January, Senators Katie Moose (D-Chester) and Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) lobbied Congress to adopt a rule for non-employees. Rejected by the Republican Party.

“Sen. Mu and I want to make sure everyone in that building is protected and has a safe place to report misconduct.

Though a congressional-wide effort has failed, Senate Democrats are in the process of amending internal ethics policies to add sexual harassment protections for non-employees, Williams said.

Both pushes are supported not only by the SEIU, but by many other trade unions and progressive advocacy groups.

In a letter sent to members of both houses earlier this month, the coalition called for the rule to be expanded.

“How the House chooses to govern itself is a message to all workplaces and employers in the state. It sets the standard for the Commonwealth to abide by,” the letter said. “Pass [Klunk’s] The resolution tells those who advocate in the House that they are protected from harassment and that their safety is a primary concern. ”

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https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/01/pa-house-lawmaker-harassment-allegation-misconduct-rules/ Lobbyist says she was harassed by current PA lawmaker Spotlight PA

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