California legislative leaders announced Wednesday that the state Senate and Assembly will for the first time work together to examine how sexual harassment complaints are handled in the Capitol.
The joint committee, led by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), will look at procedures to better protect victims of misconduct. Critics of the Legislature’s current process have often pointed out that the two houses have their own policies to handle complaints, causing confusion and inconsistencies for people who work in the Capitol.
The announcement comes as legislators return to the Capitol for their first day of work in 2018.
“While we are two different houses, it is important we speak with one voice: sexual harassment and abuse have to stop and everyone in the Capitol community must feel safe,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “This joint committee will combine the efforts already underway in the Senate and Assembly and lead the way forward in a bicameral and bipartisan way to ensure the needed changes and protections can be put in place as quickly as possible.”
The eight-member committee is equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, and between senators and Assembly members. Just one male legislator, Assembly GOP leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), sits on the panel.
Other members of the panel are Senate Republican leader Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron (R-Escondido).