By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4) – State lawmakers are calling for changes to the legislature’s workplace harassment policy as allegations against State Rep. Steve Lebsock mount.
Lebsock, who’s running for treasurer, issued an apology over the weekend to three women who accused him of sexual harassment.
“We need to do everything in our power to address these issues head on,” said Speaker of the House Crisanta Duran. “I think there are some changes that would be appropriate to our current policies to make sure we have a safe workplace throughout the Capitol.”
Colorado has among the most female lawmakers of any general assembly in the country, but some of those women say there is also has a culture of sexual harassment.
“Clearly there are serious allegations that have come forward. I take sexual harassment and sexual assault very, very seriously and for far too long, there have been boys clubs that I think we have to work to break up,” said Duran.
She’s calling for changes including having an independent third party investigate complaints.
Right now, it’s up to her and President of the Senate Kevin Grantham.
“These issues are too important to ever have the perception that one can not come forward because of fear of retribution or that politics will play a role in the outcome,” said Duran.
Senate Republicans – including Grantham and Majority Leader Chris Holbert – are also calling for stronger reporting and training procedures.
“If people feel less than comfortable; less than safe, in this building that’s a problem,” said Holbert. “We need to have a culture and environment where people are comfortable in bringing these issues to the attention of those of us in leadership in the respective caucuses.”
It took Representative Faith Winter a year to go public with allegations against Lebsock.
She’s now filing a formal complaint.
“This culture is building-wide, and so it’s going to take solutions, and moving forward with the support of Republicans and Democrats and leadership in both chambers to make sure the Speaker’s recommendations move forward.”
Both Duran and Grantham say lawmakers should receive workplace harassment training every year instead of every other year.
They also want changes in reporting policies. Duran says there needs to be enough transparency to detect patterns of harassment while maintaining confidentiality. Grantham says there should also be an online reporting system.
Leadership from both parties and both chambers will meet over the next month to draft changes.