The Latest: New Mexico state Senate fills leadership slot
Jan. 16, 2018
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on efforts to prevent harassment in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):
New Mexico state Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque has been chosen as Democratic Senate majority whip.
Stewart was named to the post Monday. Democratic state Sen. Michael Padilla of Albuquerque was ousted last month as majority whip and ended his campaign for lieutenant governor amid allegations that he harassed women at a previous job a decade ago. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Stewart joined the Senate in 2015 after serving for 20 years in the state House of Representatives.
The New Mexico Legislature has adopted new policies and procedures for investigating complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment at the state Capitol.
A panel of leading lawmakers on Monday adopted new policies that would assign outside counsel to add a measure of independence to the evaluation of harassment complaints against legislators.
The state Senate and House continue to have the final word on the disciplining of any lawmaker accused of harassment when probable cause of a policy violation is found. Outside civil and criminal legal remedies remain available to victims.
The policy evaluates what constitutes harassment in part by applying a legal standard that defers to the judgment of a "reasonable person." It also addresses harassment complaints against legislative staff and visitors to the Capitol.
New Mexico state lawmakers are taking anti-harassment training for the first time since 2004.
Human resources consultant and attorney Edward Mitnick of Massachusetts on Monday led lawmakers through lessons about harassment policies and how to create a culture of mutual respect in the statehouse. He says harassment often is about people abusing their power and authority over others.
The training is part of an effort to make the Capitol work environment safer amid a nationwide debate over sexual misconduct.
The two-hour class was mandatory for the Legislature's 112 lawmakers. Legislators signed in as the training session began.
The Legislature also is in the process of revising its anti-harassment policies after women began breaking their silence about sexual misconduct and harassment in the Statehouse.
New Mexico lawmakers are taking steps to prevent sexual misconduct and harassment at the state Capitol on the day before the Legislature convenes.
Lawmakers were scheduled to take mandatory anti-harassment training on Monday from a human resources consultant. Similar training was last offered in 2004.
A panel of leading lawmakers also is weighing revision to the policy against sexual misconduct and harassment in the Statehouse and procedures for reporting violations.
Female lobbyists and elected officials have said widespread sexual harassment at the Capitol has gone unchecked under current procedures.
A draft of the new policy spells out in greater detail what behavior constitutes harassment. It prohibits behavior that a reasonable person would find intimidating, demeaning or coercive. Any sanctions against lawmakers ultimately are decided by the House or Senate.