Panel writing Legislature's sex harassment policy may take up civility too

The Legislative Council's subcommittee on sexual harassment met Thursday in Juneau and proposed a new policy on civility. The chairman of the panel is Skiff Lobough, the Legislature’s human resource manager. He says he felt like a "fish out of water" chairing a meeting, instead of working as staff.

JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The revision of the Legislature’s policy against sexual harassment may now include a second policy requiring civility among legislators and their staff.

The direction to develop a civility policy came Thursday at a subcommittee of the bipartisan Legislative Council that was created to write the new sexual harassment policy. The subcommittee is an outgrowth of the scandal that involved Rep. Dean Westlake, a Democrat from Kiana, who was forced to resign last month over charges he sexually harassed an aide and had fathered a child with a teenage girl when he was in his late 20s. He later apologized for his conduct.

After the Westlake scandal broke, a legislator who had been pushing for a resolution of that matter, Rep. Tammie Wilson, a Republican from North Pole, said another legislator had bullied her twice, but that it wasn’t sexual harassment.

The subcommittee received a draft policy written by Skiff Lobough, the Legislature’s human resource manager. That draft, Lobough noted, only dealt with harassment.

“This policy is not a civility policy,” the draft said. “There are actions that may be inappropriate in a professional work environment that may not be a violation of this policy.”

In an interview, Rep. Charisse Millett, a member of the subcommittee, said the sexual harassment policy would fulfill the requirements of state and federal law governing the types of people who must be protected. A civility policy, she said, would proscribe bullying behavior of a non-sexual nature.

Rep. Matt Claman, an Anchorage Democrat and the vice chairman of the subcommittee, said legislators would meet once a week until the formal policies were complete. Sen. Peter Micciche, a Soldotna Republican, said he wanted the public to know that policy-writing wouldn’t disappear into a legislative “black hole.”

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