Minnesota lawmakers attend mandatory sexual harassment training

January 10, 2019 06:59 PM

Members of the Minnesota House Thursday took part in mandatory sexual harassment training for the second session in a row.

It's likely to become a regular feature of the first days of the legislative session after two lawmakers resigned in 2017 following accusations of sexual harassment.

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"We wanted to show the public that the Minnesota House was going to set a higher standard for not only ourselves, but for everybody that comes into our Capitol complex," Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said.

Daudt called for the mandatory training when he was House Speaker last year.

New DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said the lawmaker resignations in 2017 were a watershed moment for the sexual harassment issue at the Minnesota State Capitol.

"I think there was a disconnect," Hortman said Thursday during a break in the training. "A lot of men thought there was nothing wrong, and a lot of women thought this is ridiculous.

"At a certain point, we're just not going to take it anymore and that moment came in the fall of 2017."

This year's training comes after a survey of House members and staff showed 20 percent of people who responded, or one in five, reported experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment.

"Definitely was an astonishing statistic," Hortman said. "

Also a little bit astonishing (was that) only about half of the members responded to the survey. It came in the middle of the election season so we will definitely do that again."

The Minnesota Senate will also hold sexual harassment training late this month and early next.

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Tom Hauser

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