Sen. Toi HutchinsonSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) responded this afternoon after the Senate passed several proposals to address serious shortcomings in Illinois law related to responding to and preventing sexual harassment.

“A few weeks ago, more than 300 women and men took a stand and demanded a change in the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield,” Hutchinson said. “Today marks an important first step in addressing these serious concerns had by those who signed that letter along with countless others who have heard, seen or been a victim of sexual harassment.”

A key provision of today’s action included a proposal that addresses a current gap in state law that limits the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Executive Ethics Commission from making a ruling on a sexual harassment complaint or imposing penalties against state officials, including members of the legislature. The plan – contained in Senate Bill 402 and co-sponsored by Hutchinson – changes state law to expressly prohibit sexual harassment and allows the commission to issue judgements on founded complaints.

Members of the General Assembly, as well as legislative staff and lobbyists, will also be required to participate in sexual harassment awareness training under Senate Bill 402.

The Senate also passed House Bill 137 today that will allow the newly-appointed Legislative Inspector General to investigate formal complaints past the current one-year limitation; House Joint Resolution 83 that publicly acknowledges the issue of sexual harassment in Illinois politics and urges a change in the culture that allows such behavior; and Senate Resolution 1076 that creates a task force that will examine legislative changes to maximize protections for those victimized by sexual discrimination and harassment.

“Ending sexual harassment in Illinois politics will not happen overnight. But it won’t happen at all unless we act,” Hutchinson said.

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